Is Terro Safe for Plants?
May 30, 2013 9:43 PM   Subscribe

I live in the SW desert area, and have been battling ants for 7 years. Some years I win, some years they win. We've had some epic battles over years, and now I'm trying to finally gather a front that will end in at least an armistice.

Every time I find ants in my house, I lay down a blob of Terro ( It works well and they never come back to that track.

I've tried Diatomacious Earth outside. And Amdro. Neither have helped, even when I've dumped them around an obvious ant exit point.

What I'm looking to do now is start using blobs of Terro outside in the areas where I can see they're active. I've found that one of their major highways is up a mesquite tree in my back yard.

So, my question is: would Terro damage the tree if globs of it got onto the trunk and branches?

I found one previous meta reference to Borax, but it doesn't really seem to apply in this situation:

Some more information about Terro and plants: But I'm not intending to eat the mesquite trees, so I'm not worried about toxins that would make it up to humans if ingested.

The formula for Terro, from their site: Contains sodium tetraborate decahydrate (Borax) (5.40%) and other ingredients (94.60%)

The Other Ingredients is basically sugar and water. So the only part to really be concerned about would be the 5.4% borax.

Maybe the question is best phrased as: would dumping borax on a tree hurt it?
posted by BenevolentActor to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The issue of using the liquid ant bait outside will be that the liquid will dry up and rapidly become ineffective. This is why Terro sells bait stations for outdoor use.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:02 PM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think you're ok, but IANAB (botanist). When I had major ants outside in my herb garden, I took some cans of Sprite (not diet - you need a soda with sugar), I emptied them mostly, and dumped a bunch of borax into the cans in the sugar soda. (or add some sugar water and borax into the can). The sugar attracts them, and the borax kills them. The soda can keeps the dead carcasses neatly contained for easy disposal... Maybe you can scatter some cans around the tree's perimeter?
posted by hydra77 at 10:03 PM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Terro is safe around pets and children, so I'd not be too worried about plants, personally.

They make outdoor ant baits!

This is just getting started at our house, too, so I feel you. Ants drive me crazy.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:03 AM on May 31, 2013

At my old house, I had a ant nest in the yard, and finally terro'd it with good success. The lawn was harmed more by the ant nest than terro, as far as I could tell. In my current house, they came in to the bathroom for the water - repairing the small leak in the bathroom was a big help. When I got new kitchen cabinets, I but borax along all the walls beneath the base cabinets. It's nearly eradicated kitchen ants. I'm getting a fre this year, and will dumb some borax behind the sink, where I can get behind the wall. It's not good for pets, so I make sure to put it in areas inaccessible to pets, but where ants will cross.
posted by theora55 at 7:03 AM on May 31, 2013

Terro is, as you said, just boric acid in a simple syrup. Boric acid is needed by plants in small quantities and your body needs some too which it gets from eating plant material. I mix it in my tomato beds with lime to raise the ph to help prevent blossom end rot. Save yourself the cost of the name brand product and go get a box of borax from the grocery store and sprincle some of that around where you see the ants.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:54 AM on May 31, 2013

Thanks for the responses. Now I've got a good plan of action to deal with this summer's wave.
posted by BenevolentActor at 10:59 AM on May 31, 2013

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