I have a fairly large piece of property. It is mostly sandy loam. Ants seem to prefer this type of soil. At any given time, there may be several thousand ant hills on my land. Sometimes it's hard to put your foot down without stepping on one or two. It would be impractical to try to get rid of all those ants.
I enjoy gardening and always have many potted plants around. Some are being made ready to go in the ground. Since I love to share my plants, some are just sitting there waiting to be given away.
The ants prefer to nest in these pots over nesting in the ground. I have had large pots so heavily infested, my only recourse was to submerge the pot in water overnight. I have lost countless potted plants due to ant infestation, including some expensive Rhododendrons.
I found that there is an inexpensive and highly effective means of controlling these ants. I use the word 'control' and not 'eradicate'. I can rid my home, flower pots and flower beds of ants. Eventually, more will come from other areas. It's a constant battle, but I can keep selected areas relatively ant free.
Ants will eat most anything. One year, we had a lengthy dry spell. The ants were so desperate for moisture, they skeletonized several of my six foot tomato plants. With that said, I would like to add that though ants will readily ingest sugars, fats and starches, their preference is protein.
Knowing their preference for protein, I concocted a simple ant bait which is highly effective. This bait does not kill immediately, and this is a good thing. By having a delayed reaction, there is time for the 'baited ants' to return to the colony and share the bait with others, including the queen. On average, it will take about three days to kill the entire colony.
By careful observation of ants in my kitchen, I have learned that they have a 'one track mind'. If you spill a bit of sugar and an ant finds it, it will take a sample of the sugar back to the colony. The other ants, having tasted the sample, will set off to find more. If you place the preferred protein in their path, they will completely ignore it. They sampled sugar, they want sugar, even at the cost of doing without protein. For this reason, when using ant bait, the area must be clean and free of other substances except the bait. If they find something else first, they will ignore the bait.
My concoction? Nothing more than a tablespoon of beef baby food to which a fourth teaspoon of boric acid has been added.
I decided to try to attract some ants for a picture to go along with this post. So, besides the globs of bait on tree trunks, on rocks in flower beds, etc., I put a glob on a foundation block. The results you see in the picture were obtained in about thirty seconds.