Does Cornmeal Kill Ants or is it a Myth?

Updated on by Jared Belson | Please note that there may be affiliate links on this page.

It’s simple. Just lay out a pile of cornmeal. The ants will flock to it, drag it back to their nest, and all of them will gobble it up. They can’t digest it, so then they’ll bloat, explode and die.

Or, so the story goes.

Is killing ants really as simple as a sprinkle of cornmeal? Let’s explore this old wives’ tale together!

Does Cornmeal Kill Ants on Its Own?

We’re going to blow this myth wide open. Cornmeal, on its own, does NOT cause ants to explode. If you put out cornmeal, the ants will simply enjoy the meal you’ve provided for them.

How Do I Use Cornmeal to Kill Ants?

Cornmeal is a really effective bait for ant traps. In fact, most commercial ant traps use cornmeal as bait. This may be how the myth started in the first place!

Worker ants only ingest liquids. They will take the poisoned cornmeal back to the nest to feed to the larvae and queen ant. The larvae then eat the cornmeal and convert it to a liquid for the worker ants to eat.

It is simple to make your own ant trap with cornmeal as bait. You’ll need:

● Cornmeal
● A pesticide
● Oil, peanut butter, or honey
● Small, plastic containers

Mix Cornmeal With a Pesticide

You’ll want to use a slow-acting pesticide so that the ants bring it back to their nest, and don’t just die instantly. I recommend boric acid, like this. If you don’t have boric acid, borax will also work.

Boric acid and borax are not the same, though some people use the terms interchangeably. Borax is a natural mineral, often used for cleaning. Boric acid has been refined and processed and is usually used as a pesticide.

For the poisoned bait, you’ll use 9 parts cornmeal to 1 part pesticide. Mix the boric acid (or borax) with cornmeal, and add enough soybean oil to make a paste. If you don’t have soybean oil, peanut butter or honey will also work. Plus, they’ll really attract the ants!

Place the Bait in a Trap

Use a small, clean, plastic container with a lid. Place the pesticide and cornmeal paste inside. Poke entry holes around the bottom of the container.

Trap placement is important. Put the trap in an area where you have seen ants. However, be careful to keep it away from children and pets. Boric acid is toxic if ingested. If someone in your household eats it, contact a medical professional right away.

Clean, Clean, Clean!

Clean well after you have placed the trap. You want to make sure that the trap is the only available source of food for the ants!

Check the Trap

Check to see if your trap has any nibbles. If the ants aren’t going for the bait, you may need to change it up. If you used oil, switch to honey or peanut butter. Replenish the bait as needed.

Facts About Ants

Ants are omnivores. They live in a nest or a hill. The queen and larvae stay in the nest. The worker ants go out to find food.

Worker ants only eat liquids, so they bring whatever solid food they can find back to the nest for the queen and larvae to eat. After the other ants eat, they regurgitate the solid food into liquid form for the worker ants to eat.

This is why putting out solid food with poison is an effective way to poison an entire nest.

Other Ways to Get Rid of Ants

Once ants have made their way into your home, it’s difficult to get rid of them. This guide can help you identify the type of ants you have in your home. This information can be helpful to bait and eradicate these pests.


Obviously, it’s best to not have an ant problem in the first place! Don’t leave tasty treats to entice the ants into your home.

  • Vacuum crumbs and food debris regularly.
  • Keep counters and food preparation areas wiped and clean.
  • Seal trash cans.
  • Clean up any water leaks.
  • Seal entry points into your home.
  • Cover or remove rotten wood from outside your home. Ants love rotting wood!
  • Vinegar

Vinegar will kill the ants if you spray it on them. Use vinegar to wipe down well-traveled ant paths.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth is diatoms or crushed fossilized water algae. The particles have microscopic jagged edges that can penetrate an insect’s shell. Sprinkle it around entry points, or other areas where you observe ants.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, killing ants isn’t as simple as a sprinkle of cornmeal. Unless you want to treat the ants to a tasty buffet, don’t attempt to kill them with cornmeal. It won’t work! Instead, use cornmeal as a bait to trap and poison the ants.

Leave a Comment