Alternative – Boric Acid: Nature’s Bug Control

We all have heard about the harmful effects of commercial insecticides. But if faced with cockroaches flying off the walls, those harmful effects don’t seem too harmful and we bomb our houses with it. Then before we know it, we start having headaches. It doesn’t have to be this way. There are alternate solutions from our very own Mother Nature that are cleaner, safer and work better.

This natural alternative is Boric Acid. It is considered as nature’s own home-made bug control. Boric acid is a white powder which is usually mined from California’s Mojave Desert. Although also used as a preservative and fire retardant, it is proven to eradicate almost all the annoying pests of the regular household like cockroaches, water bugs, ants, silverfish, termites and palmetto bugs and keep them away for a very long time. It also works against fire ants, bedbugs, fleas, beetles, centi- and millipedes, crickets, grasshoppers and a whole lot more. One of the best qualities of borate is that the insects don’t develop a resistance to it unlike with chemical pesticides.

Borates were first used as a pesticide in 1922 with the invention of the ‘Roach Tablet’ by P. F. Harris. In 1955, a lumber company in New Newfoundland started treating their wood with borates to control termites. It turned out that all the homes with the treated wood were free from termites and wood decay. This worked so well that by 1985 there were over 200 pesticides containing borate. This later on turned into many products seen today.

Apart from being odorless and non-staining, Boric Acid and its derivatives are inexpensive and deadly to all insects. It works by attacking the bugs’ nervous systems and then dries up their bodies afterwards. Borates, when used with chemical solvents such as propylene glycol, can be used in wood and concrete thus giving long-term protection. Boric Acid products are very safe and can be used with children around (since it has also been used in certain salves and ointments for diaper rash in babies). In addition, it also turns into eyewash when diluted properly. Borate is also used as an effective fire retardant which is used in blown type cellulose insulation which is common in houses.

In use against ants, one tablespoon of Boric Acid is mixed with one teaspoon of sugar ad four ounces of water in a bowl. This is then poured over cotton balls and placed on the path of ants. Pour repeatedly when dried out. For cockroaches, mix together 8 ounces powdered boric acid, half a cup of flour and eighth of a cup of sugar, a chopped half of a small onion and one-fourth cup cooking oil. Blend all these well while adding more oil if needed to make soft dough. Take the dough and roll it into small marble-sized balls. Place the balls in places where the roaches normally stay, like in damp dark corners. The rest of the dough should be placed in opened sandwich bags to retain softness. When the balls dry up and become hard, replace with new dough. Make sure that no pets or children come in contact with the balls because they can be very toxic.

For termites, use boric acid that is mixed with propylene glycol, which is a non-toxic version of anti-freeze. In this solution, the glycol helps the borate penetrate into the wood and thus becoming part of the wood fiber. This has proven to be very successful against termites and is also effective treatment for dry rot in wood.