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Boric Acid (Orthoboric Acid)

What is boric acid?

Boric acid, also known as orthoboric acid, is a naturally occurring compound containing the element boron. It has been used in the U.S. since 1948 as a preventive control method for cockroaches, fleas, ants, and silverfish. Boric Acid is not the best active ingredient on the market to solve existing insect infestations with the exception of fleas in carpet, but it can be used in cracks and crevices or between walls to keep insects from living and thriving in those areas. It can also be spread outside buildings in lawn and fields in the form of a granular bait. Boric Acid is a key ingredient in Boractin powder, JT Eaton’s Boric Acid, Niban Insect Bait, and Flea Stoppers.

Where is Boric Acid used?

Boric Acid can be used as an insecticide in many areas, but works best in cracks and crevices and undisturbed areas. It is applied inside buildings to prevent cockroaches, palmetto bugs, water bugs, ants, silverfish, carpenter ants, termites, pharaoh ants, fire ants, ticks, bedbugs, fleas, box elder bugs, carpet beetles, centipedes, crickets, earwigs, grasshoppers, millipedes, scorpions, slugs, and more. Given the broad range of insects Boric Acid combats, it would seem to be the best preventive insecticide to protect buildings from insects, but it is limited in effectiveness due to restricted placement. In powder form it has to remain undisturbed to work. It does have a more lasting effect when applied outside as a granular bait. One example of preventive treatment, is covering the inside area of walls (between the drywall and exterior) with Boric Acid during building pre-construction. Most building owners do not have that option. A better alternative for insect prevention on buildings is to use an insectide spray on exterior walls and products containing boric acid in cracks and crevices as a second line of defense..

How does Boric Acid work?

Boric acid requires ingestion by the insect. It then works as a stomach poison causing the insect to stop feeding. It also acts as a drying agent by absorbing the waxes on the exoskeleton that keep moisture in the body. Boric Acid adheres to the legs of the insect as it tracks through it. Upon grooming, the insect ingests the insecticide causing death in 3 to 10 days.

How safe is Boric Acid?

Boric Acid is environmentally safe as it is a naturally occurring compound. It is relatively non-toxic to fish, birds, and other wildlife. It can pose a risk to mammals if it is ingested; therefore the EPA has labeled it “moderately acutely toxic.” It should be used in cracks, behind counters and in baseboards where pets, adults, and especially children will not come in contact with it. Boric Acid has been classified by the EPA as a “Group E” pesticide, meaning that there is no evidence that the compound is a carcinogen. When applying, use methods that don’t significantly increase exposure to the compound above levels that naturally occur. According to the EPA, proper care of Boric Acid and adhering to the label directions and precautions should reduce exposure and any associated risk.