You’re here looking for an action plan on how to kill ants so you can take out the rage you feel at having your home overtaken by these tiny critters.
And as much as an ant infestation suck, we got to say that if ants are the worst of your pest problems, thank your lucky stars. These little critters might be annoying when they invade your house in swarms, but they’re also relatively harmless and easy (and cheap) to get rid of.
All you really need to get rid of ants in your home once and for all is to have a little basic ant knowledge, a simple plan and a few of the best ant killers on the market.
Let’s get started with a little ant know how.
Why Do Ants Happen to Good People?
Have you ever considered how lucky you are not to be an insect? Maybe that’s just me. Admittedly, not everyone spends as much time thinking about bugs as I do.
But it’s bad enough that we have to share a world with ants when we’re many times their size. If we were scaled down to their size, we wouldn’t stand a chance.
Ants are one of nature’s true success stories. They’ve been around for millions of years, and have branched out into over 10,000 different species. As it stands, the entire population of ants is rumored to outnumber humans a thousand to one.
In other words, ants are not going anywhere.
The best we puny humans can hope to do is to keep them out of our homes and under control in our gardens. And even that can be a challenge.
Because there are so many different species of ants, with different biology and behavior, there’s no one product that’s the best ant killer for every type of ant.
So to start, let’s take a quick dive into the most common types of ants and what ant killers work best for what species.
What Type of Ants are You Dealing With?
Ants are so tiny, they might look all the same to us. But if you’re dealing with an ant infestation, it really helps to know the type of ant you’re dealing with.
The various types of ants share many similarities. They look alike. They like to work in groups. And unlike some insects, ants don’t spread disease. In fact, they’re ruthlessly clean.
But they’re far from harmless.
Some ants, like carpenter ants, can cause damage to the structure of your home. Others, like the red imported fire ant, can deliver painful bites or stings if disturbed.
And even without these worrying traits, any ant species can quickly become a major nuisance when the population gets out of control.
So if you have an ant problem in your home or garden, you probably want to know what’s the best product out there to deal with them. And ‘deal with’ in this context means much the same thing as a crime boss telling an underling to ‘deal with’ a troublesome witness.
It means kill.
To choose the best ant killer for your specific ant problem, it helps to know a little about the type of ant you’re trying to kill. Specifically, you want to know what they’re most attracted to so you can use the most effective bait.
Here’s a look at what the most common types of ants like to eat:
- Sugar ants. These very common little black ants prefer to dine on sugary sweet foods. Baits and traps work best while ant sprays may just cause them to spread to other parts of your house
- Grease ants. Many other common ant species like fire ants and ghost ants like greasy, fatty foods
- Protein ants. And then there are ant species like the carpenter ant which prefers proteins such as meats and even pet food
Once you’ve got a grasp on what type of ant you’re dealing with, all you’ve got to do is choose the best way to kill them.
How to Kill Ants: Your Best Options
There’s a lot to choose from so let’s break them down into the most popular types of ant killers.
Option #1: Ant Sprays
Quick – what comes to mind when you think of an exterminator? Probably some guy spraying liquid pesticides from a can, right?
For years, pesticide sprays have been the go-to control method for most types of insects out there. And while in recent decades, the industry has attempted to shift away from this pesticide-heavy approach, a good old-fashioned chemical spray still has its uses.
Using an ant spray works best in two different situations.
One is when you’ve managed to locate the ant nest that is troubling you. In this situation, you can apply the ant killer spray directly to the nest with a high probability of destroying all the ants.
Just make sure you use enough spray; some nests can be over six feet deep in the ground.
The other situation where an ant spray treatment can work well is if you have a lot of ants outside in the yard, and you’re happy for them to stay out there. What you don’t want is to have them coming inside the house.
Ant sprays provide a quick and easy method to apply a perimeter barrier that will kill any ants foolish enough to cross it.
But be careful. Some species of ant will become even more of a problem if you spray them. Strike them down, and they will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.
And unlike when Obi-Wan said that in Star Wars, in the case of ants, it’s actually true. For instance, Pharaoh ants have multiple queens in their nests, and if you spray them, those queens will scatter and establish multiple nests elsewhere in your house.
So make sure before you reach for the spray that the ants you’re dealing with can actually be controlled in this way.
What’s the Best Ant Spray?
When you’re sure you are dealing with the right type of ant to destroy with sprays, here are the best ant killer sprays to use…
If you want to get serious about spraying for ants, and possibly live out your fantasies of being a professional exterminator that everyone has and is totally normal and not strange at all, Bifen I/T is an excellent way to go.
Professionals in the field often use this chemical, and it provides quick and long-lasting results against ants and many other insects.
What’s great about sprays like this is the residual effect that they have. Bifen will kill any ants that contact it directly, but even after the chemical has dried, it will still kill any insects that cross it.
The length of this residual effect varies according to weather, with sunlight being the most damaging factor. But still, you can get weeks if not months of protection from this product.
Of course, like everything else, it has its downside. Bifen comes as a concentrate that you will need to dilute yourself. ALWAYS read the label carefully when using any pesticide and follow the instructions to the letter.
As well as the chemical itself, you will need a sprayer, some gloves and probably a mask. You’ll also want to keep any children or pets out of the spray area while you work and for about six hours afterward.
Once the chemical is dry, it’s perfectly safe for humans and pets. But it’s always better to be careful when handling chemicals.
Ortho Home Defense
If you’re looking to do some ant spraying without the hassle of a professional grade insecticide, Ortho Home Defense is the best ant spray for you.
With a similar active ingredient to what the professionals use, it not only kills ants on contact but also provides residual protection.
This makes it a great product to spray around the perimeter of your home to stop ants from coming in. But if you spray directly on an ant nest, it will work that way too.
The 12 months of residual protection advertised by the manufacturer are probably a little optimistic, but depending on weather conditions, the residual effect should last for several weeks or even months.
A single spray might be enough to get you through an entire summer season.
You can also use this ant killer spray both indoors and outdoors, which makes it a versatile solution. It comes with a wand already attached, so you can start spraying right away without having to buy any further specialized equipment.
However, the wand’s build quality isn’t what it could be. After a couple of uses, you may find that the wand breaks. If that’s the case, you may need to get a better quality sprayer to use this chemical with.
Overall, this spray makes it easy for you to use what the professionals use, and it provides quick and long-lasting results against ants and other creepy crawlies.
Option #2. Ant Baits
Spraying for ants is all well and good, but sometimes you want a more elegant solution. Something that doesn’t require you to dress like you’re going to outer space and vacate your house for a few hours.
In that case, ant bait can be a great solution.
The science behind ant bait is complex, but the idea is simple enough. You combine a food substance that is attractive to ants with a poison that kills them.
A slow acting poison allows the ants to carry the bait back to the nest and feed it to the queen and her young. This way, you can kill the entire nest even if you don’t know exactly where it is.
That is the brilliance behind ant baits – they allow you to kill the unseen ants. And it’s the unseen ant population that’s the true root of your ant problem. The worker ants you see make up only around 10% of the colony!
But ant baits require patience. You need to let the ants do their thing and spread the poison around.
While ant baits are occasionally called ant traps, don’t expect them to actually trap the ants. In fact, you don’t want them to do that. You want the ants to return to the colony with the food and pass it on to one another.
So while it may feel strange to let the ants go about their business, it’s the most effective way to use these bait products.
What are the Best Ant Bait Traps?
Note: Don’t use bait and a spray together. Sprays often repel or kill foraging ants, whereas you want the foraging ants to carry the bait with them back to the nest. It’s one or the other, never both.
TERRO Liquid Ant Bait
It’s hard to argue with a product this popular. These Terro ant bait stations have been market leaders for years now. It’s not hard to see why.
They couldn’t be simpler to use; simply twist off the tab and set the station down in an area where you’ve seen ants foraging. Because the bait is completely enclosed, they’re safe to use around pets and kids.
And the active ingredient is a potent stomach poison that the ants won’t realize they are spreading back to the nest.
The delicious liquid formula of the bait is attractive to a wide variety of ant species, so there’s a good chance that the ants you have will use these bait stations.
And while some ant baits can be messy, the design of these Terro bait stations ensures that the bait stays where it should be.
About the only problem with this particular ant bait is the price. The more bait stations you put down, the better your chances of controlling your ant problem, but this can get expensive.
But considering how well these work, they’re worth the cost.
Hot Shot MaxAttrax Ant Bait
Compared to the Terro stations, these plastic pucks from Hot Shot look a little low-tech. But you can rest assured that the ants won’t mind. What matters more is how attractive the bait is, and how well the poison works.
Hot Shot approaches this problem by using two different baits in a single station. Not only can this help attract different species of ant, but it also deals with one of the more annoying problems you’ll face when trying to bait ants.
A single colony of ants can change its feeding preferences according to the time of year, so that a bait that worked a week ago may be ignored entirely later. Offering the ants two different choices of bait is a good way to get them to eat at least one of them.
Another nice feature is that these bait stations have an adhesive backing so that you can stick them on walls, inside kitchen cabinets and other places.
Ants can move in three dimensions, able to walk up the wall as easily as they do along the floor, so it’s a good idea to put the stations in places where the ants will find them quickly and easily.
The problem with these stations is a problem that afflicts all ant bait to one degree or another. It only works if the ants go for it.
While the formula is designed to be as attractive to ants as possible, it’s possible you’ll have some picky eaters on your hands.
Carpenter ants, in particular, are known for being fairly unresponsive to bait. If that’s the species you’re dealing with, you may have to look more towards a spray than a bait.
Option #3. Ant Killer Granules
Time to get granular, in case this article wasn’t granular enough already.
Pesticide granules are exactly what they sound like; small granules that deliver the active ingredient. But as far as ants are concerned, there are two different types of granular pesticide.
One is a bait that’s designed to attract the ants, much like the bait stations previously mentioned except in granule form. Another is a granule version of a chemical spray. The granules are treated with insecticide that kills ants on contact.
Granules are meant to be used exclusively outside. The advantage that they have is that they can be easily scattered over a wide area using a seed spreader or something similar. Because the granules are small, non-target animals like pets and wildlife are unlikely to see them as food.
When using contact pesticide granules, the idea is to spread them over a wide area, ideally anywhere where ants may be foraging. Once you’ve spread the granules, water them. This will release the active ingredient into the soil, allowing it to seep down into ant nests and kill the colony that way.
But if you’re using a granular bait, the opposite is true. You want to apply the granules where the ants will find them easily and carry them back the nest. You also want to avoid watering them as far as possible.
In fact, with granular baits, you may need to replace any granules that get rained on, since they lose their effectiveness after getting wet.
What are the Best Ant Granules?
Alright, so here are your top picks when you’re looking for highly effective ant granules.
Bayer Advanced Complete Ant Killer Plus
Want a nuclear approach to your ant problem? Planning to go scorched earth on your garden pests? This broad-spectrum insecticide kills more than just ants.
Scatter these granules throughout your garden, paying particular attention to areas where ants are known to be active. Then water thoroughly and let the chemical do its job.
These science-based granules combine widely used insecticides that kill pretty much anything on six legs. It also provides residual protection, so it will keep killing insects for weeks to come.
But once it’s seeped into the soil, it will be far beyond the reach of any pets or kids or anyone else you’re not planning to poison.
Like all granules, this product is designed to be used outdoors only. Make sure you follow all instructions on the label. When using granules, you don’t need to go to the same lengths to protect yourself as you would with a liquid spray.
But it’s still a good idea to read the label and do as you’re told. The manufacturers don’t write these instructions for fun.
This pesticide is undoubtedly effective. In fact, it may be too effective. Not only does it kill ants, but any other insect unlucky enough to come into contact with it. For the health of your garden, this can be a problem.
There are plenty of beneficial insects that you want to keep around. So only use this product in areas where you’re confident you’re not going to harm insects that have done you no wrong.
AMDRO Ant Block Ant Bait Granules
If you’re after a more targeted approach, bait granules are the way to go. And these AMDRO Ant Block granules are perfect.
They’re designed to be attractive to ants and be carried back to the colony. The adult ants will feed the granules to the brood, who they depend upon to chew their food for them (no, I’m not making this up).
Once the brood dies off, the adult ants will starve to death. But this bait is attractive only to ants. You don’t need to worry about harming any other insects in your garden.
In fact, this bait is so selective it doesn’t even work on all species of ants. It works great on carpenter ants, fire ants but it’s not very effective for luring the pesky Argentine ant.
So if it doesn’t work for your particular species of ant, you’ll want to try a multi-pronged solution by incorporating other baits and traps.
Option #4. Insect Growth Regulators
So far, our solutions to an ant problem have all been – what’s the word? Low-tech. Ant sprays and baits have been around literally forever. And they definitely work, and are about as easy to use as anything that kills ants can be.
But this next product is far more cutting edge.
Ants are possibly the most social creatures on earth, and they didn’t get that title by being fun at parties. An ant colony depends on its young, or brood. They function as the digestive system of the entire colony.
And when they grow into adults, their sole task in life is to find food and bring it back to their younger siblings. So if you can break this cycle, you can destroy an entire ant colony.
Insect growth regulators function by mimicking the insect’s own naturally occurring hormones that tell them when to grow. A growth regulator can not only sterilize the queen of an ant nest, but it can also prevent any young ants from becoming adults.
That’s what makes this Insect Growth Regulator the best ant killer you’ll ever use because when it’s applied – you eliminate your ant problem for good.
What’s the Best Ant IGR?
Now that you know exactly what Insect Growth Regulators do – now you just need to know what’s the best one on the market.
MARTIN’S I.G. Regulator
When it comes to Insect Growth Regulators, Martin’s wins hands down. This wonder product has been relieving humans of their pest problems for ages by wiping out generations of insects.
Your ant population won’t even know what hit them.
While this product is often used in conjunction with a pesticide to kill the adults, it doesn’t have to be. In order to use it, though, you will need to dilute it according to the instructions provided. And you’ll need something to spray from.
Most importantly, you’ll need to keep pets out of the area until the solution dries. To be on the safe side, keep them away for six hours.
After that, though, once the solution dries, there’s no risk to any animals that come into contact with the solution that aren’t ants, fleas or other insects.
So not only does it work brilliantly, it’s also a pet safe ant killer.
Option #5. Natural Ant Killers
Ants are natural, right? So there should be some natural remedies to ant problems. Ones that don’t require purchasing unpronounceable chemicals from shady multinational corporations with checkered histories.
Ones that don’t involve an element of risk, however small, to your pets or children or yourself. A quick Google search will pull up all kinds of natural remedies for ants, ranging from the moderately effective to the downright bizarre.
Most don’t work but as you’ll see below, there are a few highly effective natural ant killers that may work for you.
What are the Best Natural Ant Killers?
Rest assured if you want to go the natural route that it’s possible to get ants out of your house without any risk to yourself, your family or your pets.
A strongly worded letter probably isn’t going to deter them. But these natural ant killing solutions should do the job.
Totally organic. Totally pesticide free. Totally difficult to pronounce.
Diatomaceous earth is a popular solution for those looking for insecticide they don’t need to be afraid of. This substance is made from the crushed up shells of fossilized sea creatures.
To us, it looks like a fine powder. But on a microscopic level, it’s made up entirely of sharp and jagged shards. When an ant crawls across a barrier of diatomaceous earth, the sharp shards will scratch its exoskeleton and cause it to die of dehydration.
Given its mode of action, diatomaceous earth is best used as a barrier treatment. Spread it around your house and keep the ants away.
It also works on other insects, not just ants. In fact, anything with an exoskeleton needs to be wary of diatomaceous earth, which covers most bugs.
Though obviously, those that fly aren’t going to have too much problem getting past it. Make sure you buy food grade diatomaceous earth; this is safe for use in kitchens and food preparation areas.
Diatomaceous earth is a handy tool for those looking for an organic solution. And it can function well to keep ants and other insects out of your home.
But don’t rely on it to kill off an entire and colony. It’s made more to be used as a barrier rather than an offensive weapon.
Borax is a mineral salt that has been used for years as a household cleaner and laundry detergent. What’s not as widely known is that it also makes an effective insecticide.
Borax acts as a stomach poison, so the trick is to get ants to eat it. You can do this by mixing it with sugar and leaving it in places where the ants will find it, just like a bait station. It’s probably a good idea to keep it contained in a bottle cap or similar container.
While borax is not a chemical pesticide, that doesn’t mean it’s good for you. If you have kids or pets and are concerned that they may consume some of your homemade ant bait, try covering your bait with a disposable plastic bowl that you’ve cut small holes into.
This will allow the ants to come and go, fetching and carrying the bait back to the colony, but it will keep inquisitive fingers or noses away.
Like all baits, Borax works slowly, but it works well. Stay patient, and keep the ants supplied with plenty of the mixture. The more they eat, the more effective it will be.
There are a lot of ants in the world. And so there are lots of ways to kill them. When you want to know how to kill ants, it’s important to consider what kind of ants you have and what type of treatment is going to work best for your home.
The above options are all effective in the right circumstances. Try a few, and see which works best for you. And don’t give up. Otherwise, we’ll all be speaking ant a few years from now. Is that what you want for your children?