Diatomaceous Earth vs Borax for Ants

Borax vs. Diatomaceous Earth: Choosing the Best Natural Ant Control Method

Avatar of author Ismael Girard
Ismael Girard
min read

Are you considering using diatomaceous earth to effectively get rid of ants and wondering how it compares to borax?

Diatomaceous earth is the clear winner over borax in controlling ants as it can exterminate ants within hours, is a lot simpler to use than borax or boric acid, and tends to last longer.

If you're intrigued to understand more about how diatomaceous earth outshines borax, continue reading. We'll explore the specifics of each substance's action against ants, their application, and their overall practicality in everyday use.

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

image of diatomaceous earth powder

Diatomaceous earth is a widely-sought product utilized as a natural method of pest control. This white powder is composed of the fossilized remains of diatoms, small aquatic organisms.

Diatomaceous earth's primary purpose centers around eliminating bugs, ants and cockroaches. This product's tiny, sharp particles cut through exoskeletons and deplete their life-sustaining moisture content.

How Diatomaceous Earth Works on Ants

In our war against ants, diatomaceous earth plays a vital role. When ants crawl over this powder, their protective outer shell gets punctured, causing them to dehydrate and meet their end.

The diatomaceous earth doesn't attract the ants; it acts as a deterrent. Hence, placing it in the path of these insects is key, forcing them to make contact with the white powder.

Is Diatomaceous Earth Safe to Use?

As opposed to commercial ant sprays, which can be toxic and harmful to more than just insects, diatomaceous earth brings an edge in safety.

Food-grade diatomaceous earth is safe for humans, pets, and beneficial insects, making it a wise choice, especially around the house. But, because diatomaceous earth could be harmful if inhaled, always take precautions when handling the powder.

The Benefits of Diatomaceous Earth Against Ants

Deploying diatomaceous earth in your ant-battling strategy has several advantages. The product is a non-toxic, effective way, and easy to use.

Its water-resistance enables it to stay successfull even during rainy days, a desirable feature in outdoor use. Also, DE's cost-effeciency and availability in various store points make it an excellent choice against these persistent little pests.

Using diatomaceous earth for ants is a natural and efficient solution, ensuring a safer environment for your family and pets.

Diatomaceous Earth Application Tips

  • For indoor application, you can lightly sprinkle the powder around suspected entry points, such as doors, windows, and cracks where ants find a way in. The application of a thin layer is advised. Piling it up may only cause the ants to avoid it altogether.
  • For outdoor usage, generously apply the powder around the perimeter of your house and garden, particularly near plants and other possible ant attractions. Remember, diatomaceous earth will not harm your plants, and a bonus, it even acts as a natural fertilizer. For wet or humid areas, a moisture-resistant DE product offers more effective pest control.

What is Borax?

image of borax powder

Borax, a naturally occurring mineral commonly known as sodium borate, serves various functions. It's found numerous applications as a cleaning product, insect herbicide, and even in some food processing.

How Borax Works on Ants

Borax possesses a distinctly killing effect on ants. It's used in liquid ant bait, luring ants with its sugary taste. When ants encounter borax baits, they carry the bait back to the colony.

Upon consuming the borax, it disrupts their digestive system, which will eventually kill ants.

Is Borax Safe?

While borax baits kill ants, it's relatively harmless to humans and pets in small amounts. Yet, exposure to larger amounts or prolonged use can cause skin, eye, and respiratory irritations.

Though not as toxic as synthetic chemical sprays, safety practices, like keeping it out of children's reach and wearing gloves during application, remain prudent.

The Benefits of Borax Against Ants

Borax stands out as a great and affordable pest control solution. As it can kill ant colonies in a few weeks. It's environment-friendly, doesn't harm beneficial insects, and its effect lasts longer compared to many chemical sprays.

Are Borax and Boric Acid the Same Thing?

Borax isn't the same as boric acid, though they're closely related. Borax, or sodium borate, transforms into boric acid with the addition of a simple acid such as hydrochloric or sulfuric acid.

Borax Application Tips

  • Inside the home, borax serves well as an ant killer. Combine it with powdered sugar in equal parts, then place tiny amounts near potential ant entry points. Always remember to place these mixtures out of reach of pets and children.
  • For outside home, mix borax with a lure, like sugar-water solution, and place it near ant colonies or their trails. Also, consider sprinkling borax powder around the perimeter of the house, forming a barrier against the invaders. Do note, borax can harm some plants. So, avoid sprinkling it directly on the garden or near desired vegetation.

Winner: Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth outperforms borax as the superior method to help get rid of ants. The following breakdown will demystify why this is the case.

Effectiveness Comparison

While both borax and diatomaceous earth can eliminate ants, the timeframe and efficiency differ.

  • Diatomaceous earth works upon contact by dehydrating the ants. This process, although not instant, wipes out ants within hours, delivering a quicker knock-out punch compared to borax.
  • Borax operates differently. It doesn't kill ants upon contact, and instead, its power lies in the ants unknowingly carrying the lethal substance back to their colony. This action potentially annihilates the entire colony over time. But, the drawback is the lengthy process--it can take up to a few weeks to fully see results.

Ease of Application

  • Diatomaceous earth is easy to apply. Simply sprinkle the powder where you suspect the presence of pests. Given its non-toxic nature, it can be used around pets, plants, and food without worry.
  • Borax needs to be mixed with a food source such as sugar to attract ants; and while this solution is not difficult to create, it requires additional effort and ingredients.

Cost Implications

Financially speaking, both diatomaceous earth and borax are relatively inexpensive. But, when used as ant controls...

  • Diatomaceous earth lasts significantly longer.
  • Borax may exhaust sooner due to the need for mixing it with a bait substance, such as sugar, which results in more frequent replenishments.

Taking into account these parameters, diatomaceous earth stands tall as the definitive winner in the battle against ant infestations, due to its superior efficiency, ease of application, and cost-effectiveness. Regardless, always remember, home remedies won't hold a candle to professional pest controls when battling severe infestations. Seek professional assistance when the need arises.

Natural Alternatives to Diatomaceous Earth and Borax

While diatomaceous earth and borax are both effective solutions for ant control, it's worth considering alternative natural methods that can be equally efficient, such as using dish soap and essential oils. These alternatives are safe, readily available, and can be very effective in managing ant problems.

Dish Soap Solution

A simple yet effective method involves the use of dish soap. Dish soap works by breaking down the oily surface on the ants' exoskeletons, which causes them to dehydrate and die. To create a dish soap ant repellent:

  1. Mix one part dish soap with two parts water in a spray bottle.
  2. Shake well to make sure the mixture is thoroughly combined.
  3. Spray directly on ants and their entry points, such as doors, windowsills, and other gaps where ants come into your home.

This solution is safe to use around the home and can be reapplied as needed to maintain its effectiveness.

Essential Oils

Essential oils are not only known for their pleasant aroma but also for their potent insect-repellent properties. Some of the most effective oils for ant control include peppermint, tea tree, and citrus oils like lemon or orange. Here’s how to use them:

  1. Add about 15-20 drops of your chosen essential oil to a cup of water.
  2. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle for easy application.
  3. Spray the solution around baseboards, entry points, and other areas where ants are frequent.

Essential oils, used to keep ants away, disrupt the scent trails left by ants, making it difficult for them to navigate and communicate. This method is particularly useful for deterring new ants from entering the area.

Both dish soap and essential oils offer practical and non-toxic alternatives to traditional ant control methods. They are easy to prepare and apply, making them excellent choices for quick, effective, and environmentally friendly pest management. Recognize carpenter ant activity by looking for signs such as sawdust near wooden structures and listen for faint rustling noises in walls.

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Frequently asked questions

Is diatomaceous earth safe to use around pets and children?

Food-grade diatomaceous earth is safe for people, pets, and beneficial insects. However, it can be harmful if inhaled, so precautions should be taken when handling it.

How does borax kill ants?

Borax is used in baits that ants carry back to their colony. Once ingested, it disrupts their digestive system, eventually killing the entire colony.

What are the benefits of using diatomaceous earth against ants?

Diatomaceous earth is non-toxic, efficient, and easy to use. It remains effective even in wet conditions and is cost-effective and widely available.