Ants eating bait

Is there any natural ant repellent you know of that would deter ants eating my bait (peanut butter in DOC 200 traps) and not put off rats and mice?
I read of cinnamon, pepper and lemon as repellents, but not sure if pests would like it.
Many thanks.

Think Peanut butter has sugar in it, so I switch to Nut Butter from Good Nature.

The Rats still love it, but no longer have issues with Ants.

Something that’s worked for me is spraying edible lures with white vinegar. The strong smell probably interferes with ants’ ability to detect food. Once the vinegar has evaporated, ants probably won’t take long to reappear, unfortunately, so this is a short-term solution. If you check your traps weekly, for example, the PB should remain insect-free for the first 24-36 hours, instead of it being raided from the get-go.

I’ve sprayed and soaked a number of lures with vinegar, and there definitely haven’t been any complaints from pest species. On a whim, I poured about 15ml of vinegar onto the base of a DoC 200 single-set late one afternoon, and in the morning, I discovered that Id trapped a large brown rat that night, despite the really strong smell. The vinegar was the only lure in the tunnel, too.
I’ve even trapped cats using pieces of fat that had been soaked in vinegar for 24 hours (as an anti-mold treatment).

Be careful with vinegar around traps, though, because vinegar can cause rusting.

Rats, mice, and possums all like cinnamon, and hedgehogs aren’t exactly fussy eaters.

I think that you’ll have to run some spice experiments to find out what ants and rats think about them. A sprinkling of a spice on top of PB would, I think, deter most insects, but I think that predators would just eat their way through the spice layer to the PB. You could probably use any spice that you can think of, because the smells will pique their curiosity. Cocoa, ginger, mustard, paprika, nutmeg, curry powder, etc.

Try putting an assortment of seasoned PB inside1 or 2 tunnels. I’d be shocked if one of the flavours was left alone.

The best way to completely prevent insect interference is to use Goodnature lures, because they have zero interest in them (in my experience), but predators love them. Unfortunately, due to their texture, GN lures are easier for predators to consume than PB. Still, if you were to give some PB a coating of a GN lure, ants would only be able to detect the PB once predators have eaten the GN coating. The GN will also preserve the PB, preventing it from going stale.
Of the Goodnature lures, I’ve found the Meat-lover’s Lure to be the most effective, overall.

I hope that this helps.


thanks for the tip - I have a community group complaining about ants on pb in victor traps. I will check out what pb they are using. I use (and eat!) PICS and there is no sugar in that. cheers, Tony

Just another tip, although not natural. I use Mortein Ant Sand in the bottom of DOC traps, Zip Autolures, cage treadles, etc. Not as easy to get it to stay in Flipping Timmies.

Non-target bait/lure removal is a big issue on rodent-free islands because the non-targets are so prolific on a rodent-free island. There have been cases where is no lure left within an hour of refreshing it. This has happened because non-targets receive a food reward when they interact with devices. We are very effectively training them to interfere with our devices. They even associate the presence of a human with time to collect the reward!
In the situation where it’s essential that bait/lure do its job until next service, DOC’s Island Biosecurity Best Practice recommends enclosing edible baits within something (eg nylon stockings, fine wire mesh or tea infuser balls). The objective is to prevent consumption but still allow the scent to disperse from the trap or other device. We haven’t tested whether an enclosed lure is just as good as an unenclosed lure, but we are pretty sure it is better than no lure.

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Putting the peanut butter in tea strainers works, the ants cant get in. You can also hang the tea strainer up in the trap to make it harder for them. Gets a bit expensive if you have a lot of traps though but I have never had a case of the ants getting inside the strainer

Have you ever had rats chew through a tea-strainer to get at the lure?

No never seen that, any rat wanting to get to the bait in the tea strainer would have to walk over the DOC200 plate so would never make it to the bait

I meant situations in which the trap has fired, allowing new animals to access the strainers (I should have made that clear). If a trapper could only check their lines monthly, the chances of finding damaged strainers would be far higher, of course.

What do you do for pre-feeds when strainers are used? Is the tea strainer left empty and the lure put nearby?


I am able to check my trap lines every fortnight usually, but I have never had any trouble with other predators getting into the strainers either before or after the trap had been sprung. I don’t think it would be any different if they were serviced monthly. Typically I would change the peanut butter every 2nd visit so usually monthly but it is always still there just a little drier.
Re prefeeding yes if I did that I would just leave the strainer in place empty so you aren’t introducing anything new into the trap, its part of the furniture so to speak

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My wife also has a couple of trap lines and also uses tea strainers (she introduced me to the idea) she also has never had any get broken into

I carry a can of canola oil spray, Australian mild flavor. It’s not a long term ant deterrent but keeps them away for about a month. Spray the whole inside of the tunnel-box and give the traps a coating.
Good for rust prevention on trap springs also.
I think the oil adds as an attractant for targeted species as the catch rate remains the same.

Good to hear. I’ve got to order myself a few.

much of this was covered several months ago which is a problem with forums as things get lost, best prices I have found for tea strainers is K mart.
all suggested was if you are tartgetting rats look at different lures which will last longer than paste that rats like , prefeed pellets, Chook pellets, Walnut,Macadmia etc, hard to find a rat that will turn down a Walnut and they last for weeks

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Ant bait recipe - 5-10g borax with 250g Sugar, add enough warm water to make up to 1 litre. Put in bottle caps (wine bottle lids work well) inside trap - top up as needed. The recipe came from an outfit in Nelson when they were targeting argentine ants. Works well for us.

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