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best ant killer

Choose the Best Ant Killer. What is More Effective?

Updated : 18 June 2019
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What is the best ant killer? Scientists believe that baits work better than sprays as they contain more effective active ingredients and provide a longer-lasting effect. When choosing among bait stations, opt for slow-acting solutions so that you could kill not only those insects that direct contact with them but also many other members of the colony and a queen. The poison should include an ingredient which is recommended by scientists. We believe that Terro T334 liquid bait stations fit these criteria best.

The internet is full of pointless amateur advice like using duct tape or flour. Trying all of that against ants is in vain, you won’t get rid of these creatures so easily. We’ll bust all the myths and silly recommendations, and tell you in detail how to kill ants by referring to reliable sources and entomologists. Here, we’ve listed 20 effective ant killers, professional insecticides, and essential oils for those who value everything natural.

What You Will Learn from This Guide:

Scientific Methods of Killing Ants

The worst mistake you can make when getting rid of ants is to only eliminate the insects you can see on the surface, I.e. the foragers. Most of the colony hides underground or inside their nest together with the queen. Killing her is the key to destroying the entire colony.

Various web-sites and blogs recommend sprinkling the places where ants enter your house with flour or talcum and using duct tape, salt and ground pepper and other household treatments against them. Some methods can repel insects from your picnicking spot for a little while, but other than that, they are useless. Their advanced social structure will help them find their way back quickly and collectively.

The Key Method of Ant Killing

Baits contain insecticides, are available in liquid, solid form or in drops and take some time to act (up to several weeks). How do they act? Foragers lead other insects to these baits and the latter will bring poisoned food to the colony. Eventually, it will reach the queen. The University of California experts consider bait more effective than sprays as the former contains hydramethylnon, fipronil, boric acid or avermectin. It is best to apply it in early spring and change the type during the year as the insects change their preferences each season.

NB! «Place the baits next to wherever ants are seen, preferably beside ant "trails" (invisible odor trails which workers follow between food and the nest). Do not use other insecticides or cleaning agents around the bait stations as this will deter ants from feeding on the bait. Initially, you should see an increase in the number of ants around -- DO NOT SPRAY THEM. This indicates that the ants are feeding on the bait and transporting the insecticide back to the nest. An activity will often subside in a matter of days as the number of ants in the colony declines. Continue to place additional baits wherever ants are seen», as recommended by the University of Kentucky.

There are no special ant traps as it is pointless to catch individuals. You need to resiliently destroy the entire colony inhabiting the mound. As a rule, an "ant trap" means bait stations resembling traps. They are aimed at attracting the insects, feeding them poison and setting them free so that they can share the contaminant with the others in their mound.

Ants’ taste is a separate subject. They turn out to be gourmets, and many people don’t understand why some baits work perfectly well, while in other cases, the insects ignore them completely. “Ants are rather finicky in their food preferences and may alter them throughout the year”, - as the University of Kentucky entomologists claim. “If one bait product isn't attractive or doesn't seem to be working, try another. Optimal results usually require a sustained period of feeding, not just a brief visitation by a few ants.”

best ant killers

Action:  Slow and Fast Acting Killers

The scientists unanimously name using poison bait as a key method when eliminating ants as the foragers carry it to the nest contaminating the entire colony and, what is crucial, the queen. According to the information from the University of Arkansas, there are slow and fast acting types of bait.

  • Slow acting ones are more effective as the entire colony is poisoned within 1-5 weeks.
  • Fast acting baits provide control in 3 to 7 days.
  • IGRs that prevent queens from producing new workers are the slowest as the treatment takes from 1 to 4 months. 

Use insecticides on large outdoor areas

Using insecticides is the best strategy on large outdoor areas. The University of Kentucky specialists advise: «When a below-ground nest is discovered, the colony often can be eliminated by spraying or drenching the nest location with a liquid insecticide such as carbaryl (Sevin), or a pyrethroid insecticide such as Spectracide Triazicide®, Ortho Home Defense System®, or Bayer Advanced® Lawn & Garden Multi-Insect Killer. Large colonies will require greater amounts of liquid to move the insecticide throughout the network of underground galleries within the nest (using a bucket to apply the diluted insecticide concentrate is an effective method). Another effective and convenient way to control some species of outdoor and indoor-nesting ants is with a granular bait product, such as Combat® Ant Killing Granules. Sprinkle the bait in small amounts beside outdoor mounds, along pavement cracks, and other areas where ants are nesting or trailing».

Advantages & Disadvantages of Different Types of Ant Killers 

Type Ingredients and How They Work Advantages Disadvantages
Baits  Poisoning of the entire colony. The killing effect is not limited to workers, the entire colony including the queen is dead. Ants are gourmets and change their preferences frequently, so you will probably have to  change the bait frequently.
- slow-acting Hydramethylnon, Boric acid, Fipronil, Spinosad. Workers bring it to their queen. Take 1-5 weeks to work.
- fast-acting Indoxacarb. Results are seen within 3-7 days. It cannot kill the queen.
Diatomaceous Earth Causes lethal dehydration when under the shell. Organic Acts on contact only, will not necessarily kill the queen but anything that comes into contact with it.
Boric acid (dust) A stomach poison and causes insects to die from starvation. Organic Workers will bring the dust to the mound but it is not guaranteed to reach the queen.
Oils and natural products Clove, peppermint, geranium, cinnamon leaf oils - contact action. Organic, some have repelling effect. Act on contact only, will not kill the queen.
Liquid insecticides Bifenthrin. Gamma-cyhalothrin, Deltamethrin Kill on contact Are powerful, can cover large areas and create a protective barrier around the house and target many pest insects. Toxic
IGR Insect Growth Regulator Pyriproxyfen (Nylar) - insect sterilizer to be poured down the mound Will sterilize the queen and make the colony go extinct. Too slow, action time can reach up to 4 months.

If fire ants bother you, read our review of the 17 products for getting rid of this species as the products and active ingredients differ.

Top-20 Best Indoor and Outdoor Ant Killers

We’ve picked 20 different products that are effective against ants. We’ve classified them into four categories:

We’ve picked six different treatments for home and outdoor use. Note that there is no universal product for all kinds of ants because, as you remember, their tastes differ and that’s why the product might not be effective immediately.

There are fast and slow acting baits. Fast-acting active ingredient is indoxacarb. Slow-acting ones are: hydramethylnon, spinosad, fipronil, and boric acid. The former type acts within 3-7 days, and the latter acts within 1-5 weeks. Slow acting products are considered more effective as they can even eliminate satellites that are not seen. As most homeowners would like to see the bait work as soon as possible, fast-acting baits continue to be the most popular ant killers.

Best Indoor Ant Killers

We’ve found four ant killers for using indoors: one is fast-acting bait, and the last three act more slowly, but it is guaranteed to kill the entire colony along with the queen.

Terro T334 | Liquid | 20 Discreet Bait Stations

Terro T334 Bait Stations: photo

This solution is based on Sodium Tetraborate Decahydrate or Borax (5.40%). What do we know about this chemical component? It has been successfully used since the 1900s against ants and is now considered by scientists to be one of the most effective active ingredients in ant control.

You should not expect an immediate result, though. The product provides a long-lasting effect since the insects carry the poison to their nests, thus spreading it among the colony and increasing the mortality rate. So it works slowly but for sure. Bastiaan M. Drees, a professor and extension entomologist at The Texas A&M University, suggests using Terro products containing 5.4-percent sodium tetraborate against pharaoh ants in situations where their nests cannot be located.

One of the advantages of these bait stations is that they can be stuck to almost any surface, which is due to convenient adhesive strips that come with the product.

So how do you make these insects eat the poison? It is sweet liquid, so coveted by ants, that will attract them into the bait station. And not only that! After digesting the bait, the insects return to the nest, leaving behind a pheromone trail which will serve for other members of the colony as a guide to a source of food. 

And finally, these stations will suit almost every interior as they have different colors on each side — brown and white. One pack includes a total of 4 bait stations and adhesive strips.

Price: Check the current price

 

OUR TOP PICK: Advion Ant Insecticide with Plunger

Advion Ant Gel

This is a bestselling insect killer and it has over 1600 customer reviews. Its active ingredient, indoxacarb, is a fast-acting one and is effective within a few days. This gel tube is just over an ounce (30 ml) and can serve you for up to two years (this is the expiration date declared by the manufacturer). It is aimed at getting rid of most ant species indoors which is attested by high ratings of users (80% is the highest rating). In order for the bait to work, squeeze a small amount of it on a crack near the nest or any other place out of reach of pets and children.

Price: Check the current price

 

Combat Source Kill Max

AMDRO Ant Bait

It acts according to the domino principle described above. The poison doesn’t kill an insect instantly as it is a relatively slow-acting poison and lets it interact with other ants and contaminate them. The bait is also useful against cockroaches. The solid substance located inside is not to be removed as it is toxic for skin and mucous membranes. But it doesn’t emit any toxic fumes and is harmless if used correctly.

Price: Check the current price

 

AMDRO

AMDRO Ants Bait Stations

So far, this brand is not very popular but it offers a slow-acting stomach poison Hydramethylnon that disrupts the ant’s ability to convert food to energy. It will take 1-2 weeks to kill the entire colony along with the queen. This treatment is active for three months, after which the stations require replacement. The nice perk is that the manufacturer promises a refund if the product proves useless.

Price: Check the current price

 

Best Outdoor Ant Killers

You can use both slow and fast-acting baits for eliminating the ants outside. Pick the most appropriate one but bear in mind that if you use fast-acting ones, you might need to repeat using it as the poison might not be able to kill the queen.

Terro 1806 Outdoor | Liquid | Slow-Acting

Terro Outdoor Ant Bait

You can put it either in the soil or on the surface (you can also place them in your garage). The action is similar to that of most types of bait: a worker is contaminated with a poison that is passed on to other individuals including the queen. The product has lots of positive reviews.

Price of Terro bait stations: Check the current price

The second form of the treatment available is stakes. Two packs contain 16 small stakes. Price of Terro stakes: Check the current price

 

Combat Ant Killing Strips | Relatively Slow-acting

New Ant Killing Bait

60 strips can be placed in difficult to reach places and also act according to the domino principle. They are invisible and thanks to being numerous, can poison a large territory. Although the buyers leave decent reviews, the product isn’t very popular yet.

Price: Check the current price

 

Non-Toxic Organic and Natural Products

The scientists approve boric acid, Diatomaceous Earth, limonene (extracted from oranges and other citrus fruit peels), eugenol (from clove oil), and spinosad for fire ants. Indian scientists also mention oregano oil while the Malaysian experts have found out that cinnamon oil can repel and kill ants in certain concentrations. The main disadvantage of all natural products is that they act on contact while our main goal is to kill the queen.

But boric acid, a stomach poison that causes insects to die, is the real ant killer. If an ant brings such bait or dust on its legs in the mound, it will surely kill everyone else.

OUR PICK | Natural Ant Killer | PestGuard | Boric Acid

Boric Acid

Two 16-oz boric acid tubes. This is a traditional means of controlling insects. Boric acid is a stomach poison that causes insects to die from starvation. Boric acid is to be poured down the cracks, areas behind skirting boards and other hard-to-reach places where insects live. Workers will bring the acid to the mound on their bodies but it highly unlikely that it will reach the queen and kill her as well. Despite this, this traditional product still has quite a high rating.

Price: Check the current price

 

Safer Brand 51703 Diatomaceous Earth | Crawling Insect Killer

Safer Brand Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth is a classic and most popular organic treatment against insects and arachnids that kills on contact. The fossil remains of diatom algae are crushed to a state where they become acute and harmful to insects. The sharp edges of this so-called mountain flour cut through the chitinous cover of an insect and cause deadly damage to its insides. Diatomaceous Earth is safe for humans and animals, since it cannot penetrate their elastic skin. It is sold in packages of 4 pounds. Sprinkle the places of congestion and possible migration of ants in the house with it.

Price: Check the current price

 

Blubonic Industries 100% Orange Oil d-Limonene

Natural ant insecticides

The bottle contains 32 oz of d-Limonene. It is hydrocarbon which essential oils of citrus contain and which gives them the typical smell. It is used in perfumery, alternative medicine and when getting rid of any insects. Dissolve the product in water (and shake the mixture from time to time) and you will successfully combine house cleaning and pest killing: “I noticed a Dan Ryan-size traffic pattern of ants marching down my window frame and onto my kitchen counter. Rather than get out the insect killer, I sprayed the window frame and counter with my home made cleaner. Guess what? Dead ants, and they didn't come back. Cool!”

Price: Blubonic 100% Orange Oil d-Limonene Check the current price

Remember that d-Limonene is not found separately in nature and gives off a very strong smell of orange. That’s why if you don’t feel like getting into dissolving, use diluted d-lemonene in Orange Guard 103 Water Based. It contains only 5% of d-Limonene and it is specifically aimed at eliminating home insects that are afraid of the citrus smell.

D-limonene was recognized as GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe) by the United States Food and Drug Administration and is widely used in the food industry. That is why products containing limonene are labeled as safe for use in areas near food.

Price: Orange Guard Water Based Check the current price

 

100% Essential Oils

natural ant killers

Many love the idea of everything being natural. The main disadvantage of oils is their contact properties. Since killing the queen is crucial for getting rid of the entire colony, natural treatments, alas, are powerless here. That is why you’d better resort to using baits if a large colony has infested your house. For those who still want to try and use natural remedies, here are some oils: oregano oil and two eugenol oils. Eugenol is made of several plants’ oils: clove oil, nutmeg, cinnamon, basil and bay leaf. Pick which smell you like best: oregano, cinnamon or clove.

Price: Ceylon Cinnamon Leaf Oil: Check the current price

Price: Clove Essential Oil:  Check the current price

Price: Oregano Essential Oil: Check the current price

Caution! Concentrated essential oils are dangerous for pets, especially cats, pregnant women and small children.

Natural Sprays

Eco Defense Organic

Ant Control Spray

This product’s label reads eco. It contains such active ingredients as sodium lauryl sulfate, geranium oil, and peppermint oil. Though the University of California approves of using peppermint oil, the effectiveness of the overall mixture has not yet been proven and can only be estimated by decent user feedback. Some users note that this spray can only kill ants with which it comes into contact while others claim that pure peppermint oil is much more effective in terms of repelling, and not killing. Read over 600 customer reviews on to make your own decision.

Price: Check the current price

 

Ecosmart 33119 Organic Home Pest Control

Natural Sprays

This is yet another organic product based on carnation and peppermint oils promises to kill on contact and repel over 100 insect species, including ants. The manufacturer specifies that the product is safe for kids and pets and does not contaminate home surfaces. Many users claim that the product can indeed kill insects on contact, although this doesn’t happen instantly but within a few minutes after contact. They recommend wearing a protective mask when spraying the house as this smell is very peculiar.

Price: Check the current price

 

Powerful Liquid Insecticides for Yard

Ortho Home Defense MAX Insect Killer for Indoor & Perimeter RTU Wand

Ortho Insect Killer

This is a powerful pesticide with bifenthrin as an active ingredient. It is supplied in a 1.1 gallon canister. It is sprayed over a dry surface and no moist cleaning is permitted within a day. It kills the insects and creates long-term protection (for up to year indoors and for up to 3 months outdoors). It is supplied with the canister. Judging by the reviews, it can reduce ant population in a day, but be ready for a repeat use of Ortho.

Price: Check the current price

 

Spectracide HG-95830 Triazicide Insect Killer for Lawns & Landscapes Concentrate

Spectracide ant killer

This ready-to-use spray with gamma-cyhalothrin as an active ingredient, but a concentrate is also available. It acts on many insect species and their larvae as well as on arachnids and ticks. It kills ants as well, but judging by the information, it is ineffective against red fire ants. This product covers up to 5,120 square feet of lawn. No residual effect has been found as the insecticide will only kill the insects it contacts. The product is for outdoor use only.

Price: Spectracide ready-to-use: Check the current price

Price: Spectracide concentrate: Check the current price

 

Professional Products Sold Online

Talstar

Talstar insecticide

Talstar contains a powerful pyrethroid bifenthrin. It is sold as a concentrate. Mix it with water before use. The product will act for up to three months provided it is properly used on dry surfaces, both indoors and outdoors. The users also recommend spraying a building’s foundation outside along the perimeter to create a killing barrier for any insects attempting to penetrate your house.

Caution! Don’t use this insecticide near water bodies as it is toxic for aquatic plants and animals. When using it, wear protective gloves and avoid contact with skin and mucous membranes. Once the treated surfaces are dry, they are safe for children and pets.

Price: Check the current price

 

Suspend Sc Insecticide

Professional Pest Control Product

A pint of the product containing 4.75% deltamethrin. The insecticide is to be dissolved in loads of water (up to 64 gallons), so you’ll spray a large area with it. It can be used both inside and outside (by the way, even professional exterminators use Suspend Sc). Pay special attention to spraying skirting boards if your house is infested with ants. The product is odorless and highly rated by the customers. Read over 700 customer reviews to make sure it is true.

Price: Check the current price

 

IGRs – Queen Sterilizers

IGRs are the slowest-acting treatments in our review. All IGRs prevent queens from producing new workers. It takes from 1 to 4 months for control. Although IGRs may take longer to achieve results, control may last up to a year, especially if treated areas are greater than one acre. Here is a pyriproxyfen-based product available online.

I.G. Regulator, 4 oz by Martin’s

IGR for ant control

Pyriproxyfen is the active ingredient of this concentrate. A 4 oz bottle contents are to be dissolved in water, according to the manual. It can then be sprayed both indoors and outdoors. The amount of IGR is sufficient for treating 6 000 sq ft.

This product promises to ensure effective long-term control on fleas, roaches, flies, mosquitoes, gnats, crickets, litter beetles and ants. The IGR effect must reach not only workers, but also the queen as she is responsible for producing offspring. That is why it is important to be more thorough and consistent in treating the mound as well as your lot and house (if you happen to discover the nest at home). Since this is a slow-acting product, be ready to wait for several months. In the long run, you will be able to finally get rid of several pest insects at once, which is an advantage.

Price: Check the current price

20 Ant Killers Comparison Chart

Product Type  Active Ingredient Use Price

Terro T334

Terro T334 Bait Stations min: photo

Slow-acting

Borax Place it on the walls, floors, cabinets, counters, and household appliances.

Advion

 Ant Gel Insecticide

Fast-acting Indoxacarb Place it on the trails, in the corners, floor cracks, under kitchen appliances, furniture and near the entrance to the nest.

Combat Source Kill Max A1

Ant Bait, 6 Count

Relatively Slow-acting Fipronil Place several stations near the places where there are lots of insects, or their trails.

AMDRO

Ants Bait Stations

Slow-acting Hydramethylnon Place it into wardrobes, in areas behind furniture and appliances. For indoor use only.

Terro Outdoor Liquid

Ant Baits

Slow-acting Borax Place it near the places where there are lots of insects, or their trails.

Terro Outdoor Stakes 

Terro ant bite stakes

Slow-acting Borax Stick the stakes into the soil near your house and near the spot of insects activity.

Combat Strips

Ant Killing Bait

Relatively Slow-acting Fipronil Place several strips in hard-to-reach places where there are lots of insects.

Safer Brand 51703 Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth

Fast-acting Diatomaceous Earth Pour it along insect trails.

PestGuard Zap-A-Roach Boric Acid (2-pack)

Boric Acid

Slow-acting Boric acid Pour it along insect trails, in the corners, floor cracks, under kitchen appliances, furniture etc.

Blubonic Industries 100% Orange Oil d-Limonene

Blubonic Industries

Fast-acting D-limonen Dissolve in water and apply along insect trails, in the corners, floor cracks, under kitchen appliances, furniture etc.

Eco Defense Organic Home Pest Control

Eco Defense

Contact activity Sodium lauryl sulfate, geranium oil, peppermint oil Spray along insect trails, in the corners, floor cracks, under kitchen appliances, furniture etc.

Ecosmart 33119 Organic Home Pest Control

Ecosmart Pest Control

Contact activity Clove oil, peppermint oil Use along insect trails, in the corners, floor cracks, under kitchen appliances, furniture etc.

Ortho Home Defense MAX Insect Killer for Indoor & Perimeter RTU Wand

Ortho insect killer

Fast-acting Bifenthrin Use it indoors in places where there are lots of insect. Outdoors: spray over soil, along insect trails and pour down a mound.

Spectracide HG-95830 Triazicide Insect Killer

Insect Killer

Fast-acting Gamma-cyhalothrin Spray over soil and pour down a mound. For outdoor use only.

Talstar

Talstar

Fast-acting Bifenthrin Dissolve in water and spray over soil and pour down a mound.

Suspend Sc Insecticide

Suspend Sc Insecticide

Fast-acting Deltamethrin Dissolve in water and spray over soil and pour down a mound. Or use it indoors in places where there are lots of insects.

Ceylon Cinnamon Leaf Oil

Essential Oils from ant

Contact activity Cinnamon, leaf oil Dissolve in water and draw a line along the perimeter of the house or yard.

Clove Essential Oil

Clove Essential Oils from ant

Contact activity Clove Essential Oil Dissolve in water and draw a line along the perimeter of the house or yard.

Oregano Essential Oil

Oregano Essential Oil from ants

Contact activity Oregano Essential Oil Dissolve in water and draw a line along the perimeter of the house or yard.

I.G. Regulator, Martin’s 

Queen Sterilizers

Slow-acting Pyriproxyfen (Nylar) Spray over soil or pour down a mound.

How to Use Ant Killers Properly?

As we’ve mentioned earlier, scientists consider slow-acting products to be more effective than fast-acting ones. However, regardless of the type, it’s crucial to use it at the right time and in the right place. To obtain the best results, the scientists recommend following these rules:

  • Use it immediately after opening the pack or container because its effectiveness is reduced as it dries up. If you don’t need to use it all at once, store the remaining substance in a zip-lock bag but don’t keep it for over 3-6 months.
  • Don’t bother ants before laying the substance around the mound. It can hurt you as the disturbed insects can swarm chaotically and sting you while trying to protect their home.
  • If insects start moving around actively, don’t disturb them and don’t kill them, let them quietly spread the poison in the nest.
  • Don’t pour insecticides over wet soil or grass, wait for it to dry. It is also sensible to keep track of the weather forecast: make sure that no rain is forecast for the 12-24 hours following the poison use.
  • Use it when the foragers are in search of food. Remember that they are least active when it’s too hot or too cold. Afternoon and evening, when the temperature is within the range of 70-95°F, is perfect for using the ant killing products. If the weather isn’t appropriate, conduct the following experiment. Place some edible bait (such as potato chips) near a busy mound. If the foragers have shown up within 10-30 minutes, it’s high time to replace the chips with some poison.

And what about ant repellents?

The scientists don’t name any particular repellents, but they claim that the above mentioned oils happen to have a certain repelling effect. They recommend using insect repellents on boots and clothing for fire ants protection.

To repel Argentine ants Drs. H.Shorey and P.Phillips recommend using a natural occurring repellent, called Farnesol. Cotton twine dipped in Farnesol and wrapped around the trunk of a skirt-pruned tree, repels pests for up to three months. The Farnesol price is quite high though.

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