Can You Really Use Cornmeal To Get Rid Of Ants?

With conflicting anecdotes and limited hard evidence online, you might not be sure what to believe about cornmeal and ants. Does it kill them? Will they explode? Will it not do anything at all? A quick search will give you results saying yes to each one, but three different stories aren't going to help you when you're desperate to get rid of ants. Let's set the record straight and establish that cornmeal alone does not kill ants, but it can be used as bait along with other things that will kill ants.

The idea that cornmeal can kill ants seems to have been around long before the internet started spreading this less-than-true idea. Before you pour out the last of your cornmeal on all the anthills around your home, take a second to understand how to use it effectively. When combined with something poisonous, whether natural or chemical, cornmeal makes a great bait that will attract ants to the substance that will actually kill them.

Cornmeal isn't the silent killer

Cornmeal isn't like diatomaceous earth, which is a powdery substance that cuts open the exoskeletons of insects that walk over it and dehydrates them. Cornmeal consists of small granules, but it won't physically hurt the ants. Ants are actually drawn to cornmeal since they're carb-lovers, according to a study published in the PLOS One journal. The study observed the eating habits of summer and fall ants. Both groups ate almost all of their carbs, leaving some protein behind. (Bread lovers will understand.) Since cornbread has carbs, it's no wonder ants will want to take it back to their nest.

You may hear that cornbread will make ants explode, or if not that, then it will at least kill them because they can't digest it. This is debatable, however. It's true that ants can't digest solids, but ants have this part figured out. The worker ants take solid food to feed the larvae, and then the larvae turn it into liquid for the rest of the ants to eat. So, while cornmeal can't be digested, it won't kill them, because ants won't eat it as is.

How to use cornmeal to your advantage

Just because you can't directly weaponize cornmeal against ants doesn't mean it can't be used at all. In fact, it's a great way to trick ants into taking poison back home to kill their queen and siblings. Mix cornmeal with ant killer to attract them to it. Boric acid is a naturally occurring insecticide with low toxicity to humans, putting on the safer end of insecticides. A study in the Journal of Economic Entomology showed that boric acid killed all the observed ants in just three weeks, making it a slow-working but lethal solution. Mix the two together and sprinkle them around your home to keep them from coming inside.

You can also use cornmeal to attract ants to other forms of ant killer you may be using around your home. If they aren't flocking to your traps, gels, or granular insecticides, sprinkle some cornmeal around the area. Add a little sugar for good measure; it's what they crave the most since it helps them fight off diseases and adds to their carb count.