Baiting for Ants

If ants are plaguing you, consider using baits

If ants are plaguing you, an alternative to using an insecticide spray or powder is to use a bait. Baits are available as a plastic or metal ant trap or as a sticky syrup like substance that comes in a small plastic squeeze bottle. The objective of baiting is to have the ants carry the bait back to the colony and feed it to the larvae, other workers and the queen thereby killing the colony. Baits have to be slow acting to allow the workers enough time to carry it back to the nest without being killed themselves first.

Which type of bait to use depends a lot on the type of ant. For smaller ants either the trap or the sticky drops may work. Larger ants such as carpenter ants or field ants will generally ignore the traps but may respond to drops. I use the word may as baiting for ants can be very hit or miss. Ant preference for baits varies with type of ant, type of bait and time of year. Some ants prefer sugar baits while others prefer protein baits and often this will change with the season. You may have to try several baits to find one that the ants will accept.

Do’s and Don’ts

Do Not:

  • spray with insecticide when baiting
  • stomp, squash or kill foraging ants
  • place baits away from areas of activity
  • place baits out once and forget about them
  • place sticky drop baits directly on the floor or counter


  • Use an attractant first, then place the baits
  • Always place baits on the ants foraging paths
  • Make sure that all baits are out of reach of small children and pets
  • If you’re using sticky baits, place the on wax paper rather then directly on surfaces. These types of baits harden overtime and are hard to clean up and may not beas attractive to the ants
  • Change the baits regularly
  • Continue baiting until you don’t notice any further activity
  • If you see ant activity outside of the house, bait there as well

It may take from several weeks to more than a month to eliminate the colony.