Ant baits are small, disc-shaped plastic containers that hold a small amount of bait, which appears to be an insecticide suspended in a putty-like substance that is supposed to be appetizing to ants. The containers are designed to completely enclose the baitin a way that prevents people from touching it when they handle the baits, which they must do when removing them from the packaging and setting them out for the ants to encounter. The container has small openings too small for even a baby to insert a finger, toe or tongue into but large enough to allow ants to enter freely and wander around until they discover the bait. The ants are supposed to carry bits of the baitback to their colony where all the ants feed on them and the entire colony is thereby exterminated.

The directions state that you should place the baits in the path of ant trails. The ants, in an effort to get around this large obstacle that has suddenly appeared in their path, will eventually walk through the small openings, discover the bait and begin the extermination process.

One may find many different models of ant baits. One model has two different kinds of baitthat appeals to two different types of ants. Some models are semi-transparent so that you can watch to see if the ants are eating it. I have only seen them in two colors, white and black, and some look very functional while others have decorative swirls and designs molded into their bodies.

I have used ant baits on several occasions to get rid of ants in my kitchen. I first used them as directed, removing them from their packaging and setting them in the paths of the ants and leaving them to do their deadly work. But careful observation soon revealed that even after several days, very few ants could ever be seen entering or exiting the baits. They would simply march around, or sometimes over, but rarely through the baits. The bait never seems to actually attract the ants.

And so over the years I've experimented with various ways to encourage the ants to enter the baits in greater numbers. At first I tried putting drops of honey or jelly or Kool-Aid into the openings on the baits. This would at least draw the ants into the bait. But when I tried the experiment using the baits with the semi-transparent tops, I was disappointed to find that the ants were avoiding the baitand only going for the sweets I'd left for them.

Next I tried putting out a dollop of grape jelly on the kitchen counter and waiting until huge numbers of ants were swarming to it. I then used liquid dishwashing detergent to draw a nearly-complete circle completely around the jelly, leaving a half-inch space on either side of the ant trail. I then completed the circle by setting an ant baitdirectly in the path of the ants. The ants would not, could not get through the dishwashing liquid, so their only way to the jelly (or back home from the jelly) was to go through the ant bait where, I figured, they would at least walk through the bait and get some stuck on them and take it back to the colony. This seemed like an excellent plan, but the ants just marched over the top of the ant baitcontainer. So I coated the top of the container with liquid dishwashing detergent thinking that this would surely force them to march through the ant bait. But no, the ones outside the circle of soap gave up and went to forage for sustenance among the dirty dishes in the sink. Those inside the circle went back and forth between the jelly and the detergent until the detergent dried enough for them to cross over, then they too abandoned the jelly and never went back before I swept the whole mess into the sink.

My latest attempt proved more successful. I cut the top off of two of the ant baits and used a toothpick to mix a small bit of jelly into a small area of the putty-like substance containing the insecticide sort of like adding a small pool of gravy to the top of a large pile of mashed potatoes. At last the ants were interested! They feasted on the bait until every bit of jelly was gone, and I haven't seen an ant all day.