How long does it take to kill an ant?
August 12, 2008 5:01 AM   Subscribe

How long does it take ant traps to work? I used Combat Traps that have the Combat Ant killing Gel inside them.

Also, does the poison reduce in efficacy/potency over time? The best I can find is that after you put them down, you should replace them in 3 months. Is this because the gel gets used up by the ants or because it loses its potency? I ask because I bought these traps a couple months ago but never used them until this week, so I'm wondering if I'm still seeing ants because the traps are old. (Also, if you use the Metafilter search (all sites) for "ant," you get absolutely nothing -- so common a word, but nothing! I did do a Google search but didn't find an answer).
posted by bluefly to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
I think it's mostly that the gel dries up and loses efficacy after a few months. As long as you haven't peeled the labels off the traps or anything, you should be good. if 'a couple months' isn't actually 'a couple years', you're fine - think about how long it would probably take to get them from manufacturing, to a distributor, to a warehouse, to a store shelf...
posted by pupdog at 5:08 AM on August 12, 2008

"Ant" gets no results (mysteriously) but "ants" gets a ton of them. And, see "related questions" below. But pupdog is correct, if you haven't opened the package previously, they should be fine.
posted by beagle at 5:48 AM on August 12, 2008

"How long does it take ant traps to work?"

In my experience: Forever. None of my attempts to use ant traps have worked, and I've hardly even seen ants take an interest in the traps at all.
posted by majick at 6:14 AM on August 12, 2008

I know you're asking about Combat Ant killing Gel, but if you run out of that stuff or find it isn't working much, try Terro - it's a liquid that I've kept in storage for a few years and is still good. You dab a few drops onto some cardboard and it "dries" to a thicker consistency and it has done wonders against ants. It was recommended to me by a friend and it's worked great.
posted by perpetualstroll at 6:16 AM on August 12, 2008

One thing I've noticed about ant traps is that they seem to attract/kill primarily the big black ants, and don't seem to work as well with the more common little guys. YMMV

I've used the Terro traps for the black ants and they worked great. Within a few days, I had dead ants in the traps.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:47 AM on August 12, 2008

The devices described so far aren't really "traps," but bait stations. Your ants ideally don't get stuck in there (though some do); rather, they take the bait back to the colony and feed it to the queen. She dies, the colony dies, and you have no more ants.

In my experience, it's sort of an on-going control thing, rather than a total elimination. If conditions are conducive to the existence of one colony, then they're conducive to the existence of multiple ones. Even if, by some chance, you kill all the neighborhood ants, more will eventually move in. So add new gel or Terro drops every now and then, and you'll keep the infestation at bay.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:19 AM on August 12, 2008

What MrMoonPie said. I've used the Combat Traps, and had ants gone within a few days. You have to make sure that you place the traps along the path of the ant trail, and you have to make sure that the ants actually enter, eat/carry the gel, and leave the traps. In my case, I had two very distinct trails leading from the outside into my room, so I laid two traps on each trail and gently herded any ants veering away from the traps towards it. After an hour or so, they started swarming around the traps; this continued for a day or two, then: surprise! No more ants.
posted by suedehead at 7:37 AM on August 12, 2008

Yeah, I read those other AskMe questions before posting (the google search picked them up) recommending Terro. I chose the Combat traps because that's what the local entomology lab at the university extension recommends. I'll wait a week, and then try the Terro. I've lived in this apt for 3 years and never had ants before! But I'll accept it as a summer maintenance thing, and that I'll only be able to exterminate locally; they'll always come back.
posted by bluefly at 7:37 AM on August 12, 2008

Seconding the Terro -- I had a major problem with fire ants recently, and (after trying a bunch of other stuff and seeing one of the other posts here) put down some Terro (the pre-loaded trays). After two days, I've not seen another ant in any of the affected areas.
posted by nonliteral at 8:35 AM on August 12, 2008

I highly recommend Terro as well. Just be careful if you have pets because you are leaving the liquid out in the open. But it works immediately; in about two days you'll see a huge reduction in ants and you can actually seeee that it works because the ants usually die right on the cardboard (not really as gross as it sounds). I have never had luck with traps.
((I have never used Terro in pre-loaded trays; i always just about the liquid and poured some on cardboard))
posted by lintacious at 8:13 AM on August 13, 2008

None of the following have worked for me for the little, black kitchen ants (call them what you will):

- All brands of ant traps bought from Home Depot
- Borax
- Baby powder
- Cayenne pepper
- Viktor's mint spray
- washing trails away daily

HOWEVER, an Orkin man once gave me some clear ant traps with a brown peanut butter-looking circle in the center. Those have worked at every apartment I've lived in over the past 4 years until I used the last one this summer. They killed off ants in one week and kept them away for months at a time.
posted by metajc at 8:35 AM on August 13, 2008

Took me two days to get rid of our ant infestation. Put the trap where the ants already are and they will quickly form a line taking the food back to their nest. If you can't put the trap where they are find a way to lead them to it. Sugar works well.

Also the ants are there because they found some food at some point. So stop attracting them - be cleaner, wash dishes right away and clean up spills on the floor right away.
posted by srboisvert at 9:26 AM on August 13, 2008

I've always used the clear gel that you squirt from a syringe-looking device from Home Depot. Whenever I saw an ant trail, I would squeeze out some gel right in their pathway. Soon, all the ants will be around the gel and getting ready to take it back to the queen. Usually all the ants are gone within hours. And, I don't see them again for a long, long time.
posted by namewithhe1d at 11:00 AM on August 14, 2008

apparently some ants like sweet food, and some like savory. The traps you buy are probably either sweet or savory, but not both.

What I'm planning on doing is mixing some borax with both peanut butter, and with marshmellow fluff. Lay both out, and the ants should take back to the colony at least one of them.

Just make sure to google how much borax to mix in. This method should be way cheaper than buying bait stations...
posted by schmoppa at 9:46 AM on August 15, 2008

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