We can't deny the fact that ants play an important role in our ecosystem—especially when it comes to maintaining our gardens.
These insects are omnivores, which means that in addition to sugars and seeds, they feast on other insects; the ones which pester our lawn or backyard vegetation.
This is, unfortunately, the point in time that these ants become our most common household adversary.
We can all agree: a trail of ants up snaking up the kitchen walls and cupboards is downright horrific.
The sight is so unsettling, in fact, that it leads some people to look for unconventional products in the kitchen to kill off these invasive insects for good; say, cornmeal, for example.
But does it really work?
Let's have a look.
What Exactly Is Cornmeal?
As its name implies, cornmeal is a special type of flour (or meal) made of dried and ground corn kernel. The cornmeal takes a powder form with a varying consistency; in some cases it can be finely pulverized and in others, a course grain.
Cornmeal can be eaten on its own, or be used as a primary ingredient for some of our favorite baked goods such as cornbread and corn muffins. This type of grain is an excellent source of dietary fiber, iron, and phosphorus.
Additionally, cornmeal is often cited as a notable alternative to wheat flour in baked treats with either smooth or crunchy textures.
The Cornmeal Myth
You may have already read a lot of claims on the effectiveness of cornmeal as a potent ant killer.
These reports suggest that ants are very much attracted to the cornmeal, and they ingest it despite the fact that they are incapable of digesting its grains. This gristle works to kill the insects over a period of time, lending the theory a bit of validity. Some claims, however, even go so far as to assert that cornmeal inside an ant's digestive system will cause the insect to physically explode.
We hate to burst your bubble (and that's the only thing exploding here), but these rumors just simply aren't true.
In reality, cornmeal doesn't react this way when ingested by ants. In fact, this grain is just plain food to these insects—not much different from the usual diet of an ant—and spreading cornmeal across the corners of your home will only worsen your ant infestation.
Using Cornmeal as Part of the Bait
If you plan on using cornmeal to get rid of ants, it is better used as a part of a baiting treatment. This, in a nutshell, means that you should mix your cornmeal with a potent and recognized ant killer such as boric acid.
Your ant bait solution should be 9 parts cornmeal and 1 part boric acid. Add an ample amount of soybean oil—enough to yield a paste-like solution. You can also use peanut butter or honey as an alternative for soybean oil (which will help to lure the ants even more due to an attractive smell).
You're probably wondering why the active ingredient, boric acid, is only coming in at about one-tenth of the solution.
This is to make sure that the bait's killing mechanism is slow enough to provide enough time for the workers to spread the chemical throughout the colony.
Place the ant-bait solution along gaps, crevices, and identified insect entry points on your property. It would be advantageous if you have already spotted ant nesting grounds in your garden; this way, you can place the bait near any sites you know the ants will congregate.
This will, naturally, increase the chances of ant workers trampling through your baiting system.
When ant colony workers encounter the bait solution, they they pick it up and carry it with them back to their nest.
At this point, the workers feed it unknowingly to their larvae—which in turn chew up the bait and regurgitate liquid food. The liquid food regurgitated by the larvae as well as the workers is then consumed by the queen ant, and the rest of the members of the colony.
The notion of cornmeal acting as a potent ant killer on its own is simply not true.
However, this grain can be used as part of a homemade ant bait treatment alongside boric acid. This is because cornmeal helps disguise the chemical bait as a source of food, and carries the solution back to its nest for consumption by the entire colony.
By knowing the facts and how to use them to your advantage, you can effectively eradicate your pesky ant problem for good.
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