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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Borax bait separation & ants


Hi, I have some ants in the kitchen who are fond of protein, specially cat food. I made bait by combining borax and cat food at about a 2:3 ratio. I left it out, and the ants were all over it. The next day, however, I noticed they had carefully separated the crystals from the cat food. I am wondering if my plan had any effect (by mere virtue of the ants walking over the borax, touching it with their mandibles) or if I just succeeded in feeding the , making the problem worse. Any thoughts or advices appreciated!


Dear Bob - To avoid this sort of situation, the borax/boric acid needs to be fully incorporated in the bait mixture. As you are dealing with protein-loving ants, I suggest using peanut butter instead of cat food, as this would make it far more difficult for the ants to perform the type of triage as you noted with the cat food. See for additional details and tips on ant control in the home.

Hope this helps,

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Ed Saugstad


Will accept most questions in general entomology, including those related to medical entomology, taxonomy, ecology, arthropod surveillance, and pest management. If you are requesting a 'mystery bug' identification, PLEASE either attach an image to your question, or post an image on a web page (such as Flickr) so that I can look at it, as verbal descriptions frequently are insufficient for a definitive identification.


21 years in the U.S. Army as a medical entomologist; duties varied from surveillance of pest populations (including mosquitoes, cockroaches, ticks, and stored products pests) to conducting research on mosquito-virus ecological relationships and mosquito faunal studies. Ten years as a civilian analyst for the Department of Defense, primarily on distribution of vector-borne diseases worldwide. Limited experience on surveillance of agricultural insects in North Dakota and Indiana.

Entomological Society of America, West Virginia Entomological Society, Society for Vector Ecology, National Speleological Society, West Virginia Association for Cave Studies.

American Journal of Public Health, Contributions of the American Entomological Institute, Japanese Journal of Sanitary Zoology, Journal of Economic Entomology, Mosquito News, and Mosquito Systematics.

B.S. in entomology from North Dakota State University in 1963, M.S. in entomology from Purdue University in 1967.

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