When you come across a black ant at home, you don’t care what its Latin name is or what genus it belongs to. All you want to do is to get rid of it. Here you"ll know why they infest people’s houses and which methods are approved by the scientists. How to Get Rid of Black Ants: Can you get rid of them using traditional methods? Which baits and insecticides are best? How to get rid of the wall colony? We have reviewed the best black ant control products, so scroll down to our list of Top-10 Killers if you already know who these pests are.
What You Will Learn from This Guide:
- 5 Steps On How To Get Rid Of Black Ants
- Scientifically Proven Methods of Getting Rid of Black Ants
- I Have a Single Ant in My Kitchen, Should I Be Worried?
- What Should You Do If There Are Nests in the Wall?
- How Ant Killers Work: Comparison Table
- How to Get Rid of Black Ants Naturally
- Top-10 Black Ant Killers: Organic Products, Poison Bait Stations, Insecticides
But first of all, you should have a plan of action in order to obtain desired results.
- Inspect your house to reveal how black ants get into the building. Pay attention to damp places, such as gaps along the pipes, and the sites where food is stored. Once you have detected an ant, do not kill it but, instead, try to track its route. This will help you find out the problem area. Monitor the area around the house, focusing on moist piles of wood or boards. This is where ants typically establish their nests.
- Clean the house. Wash the sites where ant trails have been revealed with soapy water. Dispose of the remains of food, particularly those containing sugar. Also, remove unnecessary objects with flat surfaces.
- If you have noticed just one ant, kill it immediately as it is probably a forager searching for food for the colony. As soon as the forager comes across something eatable, it will communicate about the trophy to the others.
- Do not confine your efforts to killing ants which you encounter in the bedroom or kitchen. They are just a small portion of the ant colony inhabiting the nest. To target the entire colony, and most importantly, the queen, use slow-acting poisons. Once an ant has eaten the poisoned bait, it will carry the disease to the nest and spread it there. Such baits are available both in stations and dispensers. While the former is a safer option, the latter is recommended for treatment of hard-to-reach spots like cracks in the wall.
- In case you have reasons to avoid chemicals, try natural solutions such as diatomaceous earth (DE), boric acid that can be sprinkled into the gaps and cracks. You may also apply some homemade solution using essential oils and vaseline as active ingredients. Soak cotton balls in peppermint oil and distribute them along the ant routes.
More information about how to get rid of black ants, peculiarities of their behavior, what should you do if you have come across a single ant or discovered the entire colony can be found in our detailed guide below. A review of TOP 10 black ant killers will help you decide on which product you should purchase.
The first step to take is to figure out where they come from and where their nests are located. As the University of California experts recommend, regularly inspecting your home for ants or their entry points is an important part of an Integrated Pest Management program. Monitor for ants near attractive food sources or moist areas.
Ants may invade kitchens, bathrooms, offices, or bedrooms. Inspect under sinks, in cupboards, and along pipes and electrical wires. Look for large trails of ants or for just a few stragglers. Straggling ants are scouts randomly searching for food or nesting sites.
When you spot trails, try to follow the ants to where they are entering the building and to the nest if possible. You should look indoors and outdoors for holes or cracks in foundations or walls that provide entry points to buildings.
To put it simply, to save your effort and money in getting rid of these unwanted guests, be vigilant and don’t let any insects penetrate your house. Eliminate any weak spots: fill the cracks, holes and gaps in the foundation, walls and window frames paying special attention to wiring and pipes.
Remove any food leftovers, especially sweets, garbage and unwanted stones, boards and other flat objects. Wash places where pests have appeared and their trails with soap to remove the odor guiding the insects.
Your main aim is to kill the queen. The University of Kentucky specialists warn that the mistake most people make when attempting to control ants is only spraying the ants they see. This approach usually fails because the ants seen foraging over exposed surfaces are only a small portion of the colony. Typically, there will be thousands of additional ants including one or more egg-laying queens hidden somewhere in a nest. Eliminating queens and other colony members within nests is often the key to effective ant control.
The only way to achieve your goal and kill the queen is to feed it poison. There are a great number of various slow-acting baits, and their poison acts like domino. A poisoned insect has enough time to share a poisoned piece of food with others and their queen before dying. Not only does this worker carry some food into the colony, it also attracts others to the bait. If used properly, baits and poisoned bait stations are much safer than sprays. They are most effective in early spring.
Baits are the key method of getting rid of these invaders
The manufacturers sell solid and liquid baits packed as stations or in tubes for indoor use. Sometimes, these baits are mixed with boric acid and poured in special reusable containers or leave drops in places where there are many ants which are inaccessible to humans and pets. The University of California scientists believe that baits in dispensers or containers are more effective than disposable ones, especially liquid ones that tend to dry quickly.
Gel dispensers are used when you need to leave a small amount of bait somewhere inaccessible: in the cracks, behind the skirting boards or on pipes and wiring.
Ants tastes’ differ and they are extremely finicky. Carpenter and odorous ants will like sweet baits and pavement ants are omnivorous. That is why you will have to provide a variety of poison baits for insects or switch sugar and protein-based baits frequently. First, attract them to a non-toxic food source like sugar milk, cherry or diced crickets or mealworms. After they start feeding, replace the nontoxic food source with several different toxic baits, and let them choose the one they prefer.
Have you noticed a single ant at home and can’t find any others? Should you be worried? You should. As the scientists explain, this isn’t a wandering ant, but a forager looking for some food for the colony. Once it finds some, it signals the others to attract them to the food source. At this stage, you can stop the invasion by eliminating the forager. If you don’t do this, soon enough, hundreds or thousands of insects will head to your food stocks along the newly formed trails.
As the Texas A&M University entomologists recommend, nests in wall voids can be treated by injecting aerosol through cracks and crevices and around baseboards. If nests cannot be located, toxic baits can be effective when placed on foraging trails.
|Type||Active Ingredients||Action||Best Use|
|Liquid insecticide||Bifenthrin, Gamma-cyhalothrin, Deltamethrin||Kills on contact and creates a protective barrier around the house.||Use outdoors or indoors. Pour into mounds, treat foundations and spray in the insects' activity areas.|
|Granules||Acephate, hydramethylnon||They destroy an outdoor colony and prevent new pests from appearing.||Use outdoors for broadcast treatment, pour it around the mound and along the trails.|
|Foam and sprays||Fipronil||Will kill an inaccessible colony within a few days.||To be sprayed on nests in the walls.|
|Poison baits (bait stations)|| |
|The most effective method that can eliminate the entire colony. It is effective within 3-5 days (fast-acting), 1-5 weeks (slow-acting).||Use indoors or outdoors in the areas of insects' activity and around their mounds. Ants are finicky and they change their preferences often so you will likely have to switch bait types several times.|
|Diatomaceous Earth||Organic insect killer||Contact action: the particles cut the insects' exoskeleton and cause dehydration.||Use indoors, spray along the trails and in the insects' activity areas.|
|Boric acid (dust)||Low-toxic insect killer||Slow-acting stomach poison.||Use indoors, spray along the trails, down the cracks and shelters.|
|Limonene||Citrus essential oils ingredient||Impacts the CNS, causing paralysis and death of insects.||Can be used near food.|
|Oils and Natural sprays||Clove, peppermint, geranium, cinnamon leaf oils||Contact action and certain repelling effect.||Are conditionally safe, i.e. they can be used for treating any areas and creating a protective barrier around your house.|
|IGR||Pyriproxyfen||Highly effective: sterilizes the queen and therefore will remove the colony completely.||Use indoors or outdoors: spray mounds and trails. A very slow-acting product (is effective at least after a month), so be patient.|
Read our Comparison Review to learn more about 20 best ant killers
Diatomaceous Earth is the most famous organic means of getting rid of insect pests. This mineral substance, which contains fossil remains of diatom algae, is crushed into flour sharp enough to 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.
Powdered boric acid is used in baits or on its own. It is effective against carpenter ants in walls or in the furniture where it is poured through a hole and is distributed along the trails and galleries.
The University of Clemson scientists distinguish limonene as one of the vegetative products effective against ants: limonene is produced from citrus oils extracted from oranges and other citrus fruit peels. It is used as a contact insecticide against ants, roaches, palmetto bugs, fleas, silverfish and many other insects. Limonene has low oral and dermal toxicity to mammals, birds and fish, although it can cause skin irritation or sensitization in some people.
Eugenol, an active ingredient of clove oil, is actively used in organic insecticides. It is used when getting rid of ants, cockroaches, mites, flies, wasps, spiders and other arthropods, including herbivorous pests. Eugenol acts quickly but is not considered eco-friendly. It irritates human skin and eye mucous membranes, and that is why wearing safety goggles and rubber gloves is recommended. It is often combined with thyme, sesame, rosemary and other essential oils.
In accordance with the scientists’ recommendations we have found 10 effective and accessible products: organic for kitchen and food storage, foam for insects in the walls and effective baits for removing the entire colony, including the queen as well as powerful outdoor insecticides.
Natural Treatment: Diatomaceous Earth, Boric Acid and Essential Oils
Safer Brand 51703 Diatomaceous Earth Bed Bug, Flea and Ant Crawling Insect Killer
The above mentioned diatomaceous earth is the most popular non-toxic insecticide. It is safe for humans and pets but not for insects. The fossil remains of diatom algae are crushed to a state of sharp deadly flour that can cut through the chitinous cover of an insect and cause deadly dehydration. Such a contact killer is unlikely to reach the queen so the colony will regenerate soon enough and repeat treatment will be required.
Safer Brand manufactures diatomaceous earth in 4 pound packs for ~$9.47. Sprinkle the places of congestion and possible migration of ants in the house with it. It is undesirable to use diatomaceous earth outdoors as it is not water-proof. It is also effective against bed bugs, fleas, centipedes and other pests.
Price: ~$9.47 Check the current price
PestGuard Zap-A-Roach Boric Acid (2-pack)
Boric acid is a simple and well-known product. Two 16-oz boric acid tubes cost only ~$9.29. Powdered boric acid is used against insects, namely ants and cockroaches. This is a slow-acting stomach poison. The powder is to be placed in inaccessible places or sprayed in the nest entrance. It is also effective against a wall colony: spray it through a hole and it will distribute along the trails and galleries.
Price: ~$9.29 (2-pack) Check the current price
Clove Essential Oil
Clove essential oil for ~$15.15 is not an insecticide; it is used for contact insect repelling as it contains eugenol approved by scientists for eliminating pests. Mix some oil with lots of water and use it to create a protective barrier around your house. Caution! Essential oils are dangerous for pets, especially cats, for pregnant women and small children. Don’t use pure essential oils and don’t be too hopeful if you suffer from a large-scale infestation. In this case, go back to using baits.
Price: ~$15.15 Check the current price
Blubonic Industries 100% Orange Oil d-Limonene, 32 oz
A 32 oz bottle of 100% d-limonene costs only ~$38.99. d-Limonene is not found separately in nature. It is made of citrus essential oils that give it the typical smell. Being a separate product, it has a strong smell and needs to be dissolved in water. Spraying such a mixture on the insects will lead to paralysis and death.
If you don’t want to bother making a mixture, opt for a ready-to-use spray such as Orange Guard 103 for ~$16.99. It contains only 5% of d-limonene, the rest is water. This is a convenient product for preventing and eliminating a small infestation which smells nice.
Price: 100% d-limonene concentrate: ~$38.99 Check the current price
Price: 5% d-limonene spray: ~$16.99 Check the current price
Poison Bait Stations
Terro 1806 Outdoor Liquid Ant Baits - For Outdoor Use
This is special outdoor bait for only ~$14.20 (for 6 stations). A borax-based bait station is installed on the surface. This slow-acting bait acts simply: foragers will find the bait and share it with other colony members. It is then highly likely that the queen will also be poisoned and the entire colony will be therefore destroyed.
The bait has been highly rated by the customers. It is also available in the form of bait stakes that are stuck in the soil. In this case, a pack of 8 stakes will cost you ~$6.86.
Price: Terro Outdoor Bait Stations: ~$14.20 (6-pack) Check the current price
Price: Terro Outdoor Bait Stakes ~$6.86 (8-pack) Check the current price
Combat Max, Ant Killing Gel - For Indoor Use
This cut-rate Fipronil-based gel bait by Combat costs only ~$6.99 per 27 grams and is highly rated by Amazon.com customers. This gel is supposed to be squeezed out of the syringe on any place reachable by the ants: cracks in the floor and walls, corners, window sills, spots around pipes etc. As the manufacturer promises, this bait begins to act within an hour. You will be able to observe preliminary results within 3-5 days. This gel is universal and is suitable for removing many ant species.
Price: ~$6.99 Check the current price
Ortho Home Defense MAX Insect Killer for Indoor & Perimeter RTU Wand
This bifenthrin-based ready-to-use insecticide is sold for ~$25.22 and is supplied in a 1.1 gallon canister. It is recommended for ant control not only by regular users, but also by the University of Kentucky experts. Ortho can be used both indoors and outdoors.
This fast-acting insecticide is to be sprayed over a dry surface and no moist cleaning is permitted within a day. The product is deadly for pests and creates a protective barrier which remains effective for up to a year indoors, and for up to three months outdoors. Before conducting outdoor treatment, check the weather forecast to make sure there will be no rain for a day.
Price: ~$25.22 Check the current price
Spectracide HG-95830 Triazicide Insect Killer for Lawns & Landscapes Concentrate
This ready-to-use spray with gamma-cyhalothrin as an active ingredient costs ~$80.26. A more reasonably-priced concentrate is available for ~$22.24. Both options are universal and can cover up to 5,120 square feet of lawn. Remember that you need to dissolve the concentrate in water before use.
Spectracide acts on contact against over 250 insect species, their larvae and arachnids, including the bed bugs. It also kills ants, but, judging by the Amazon.com reviews, it won’t remove all of them as it is useless against fire ants. 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 Insect Killer Spray: from ~$80.26 Check the current price
Price: Spectracide Insect Killer Concentrate: ~$22.24 Check the current price
Termidor Foam – For Killing Ants in Walls
Termidor Foam is a universal fipronil-based killing product for removing various species of pests. Spray the foam right into the wall voids where a colony happens to settle. The foam is quite dense so the parasites won’t be able to overcome its barrier and survive. They will die of fipronil within a few days. Although this product is quite expensive (~$23.90), the users unanimously admit that it is very effective and much cheaper than hiring exterminators. Its high rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars is a proof.
Price: ~$23.90 Check the current price
Talstar - For Indoor and Outdoor Use
Talstar, a professional concentrate, contains 7.9% of bifenthrin used against ants, beetles, cockroaches, bugs and other insects. The concentrate costs ~$39.29. 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! This insecticide is allowed for use even in food handling areas, but it cannot be applied near bodies of water as it is toxic for aquatic plants and animals. When spraying 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: ~$39.29 Check the current price
10 Black Ant Killers Comparison Chart
|Product||Type||Active Ingredient||How to Use||Price|
Safer Brand Diatomaceous Earth
|Fast-acting, contact activity||Diatomaceous Earth||Pour it along insect trails, in the corners, floor cracks, under kitchen appliances, furniture etc.|
PestGuard Zap-A-Roach Boric Acid (2-pack)
|Slow‐acting stomach poison||Boric acid||Pour it along insect trails, in the corners, floor cracks, under kitchen appliances, furniture etc.|
Clove Essential Oil
|Contact activity||Clove Essential Oil||Dissolve in water and draw a line along the perimeter of the house or yard.|
Blubonic Industries 100% Orange Oil d-Limonene
|Contact activity||D-limonene||Dissolve in water and spray along insect trails, in the corners, floor cracks, under kitchen appliances, furniture etc.|
Terro 1806 Outdoor Liquid Ant Baits
|Slow‐acting stomach poison||Borax||Place several bait stations near the places where there are lots of insects, or their trails.|
Combat Max, Ant Killing Gel
|Relatively slow-acting poison||Fipronil||Place this bait on the trails, in the corners, floor cracks, under kitchen appliances, furniture and near the entrance to the nest.|
Ortho Home Defense MAX Insect Killer
|Fast-acting||Bifenthrin||Spray 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
|Fast-acting||Gamma-cyhalothrin||Spray over soil and pour down a mound. For outdoor use only.|
|Relatively slow-acting||Fipronil||A dense foam for killing the insects in the walls, will destroy a colony within a few days.|
|Fast-acting||Bifenthrin||Dissolve in water and spray over soil and pour down a mound.|
Know Your Enemy: Types of Black Ants
Ants living outdoors harm live plants and sustain the population of aphids and scale insects on leaves. Once in your house, they damage furniture and climb into food storage areas. Finally, they are extremely annoying, can spoil your picnic and even bite you unpleasantly. Let us examine these species in details. Here are the black ants.
The black garden ant (Lasius niger), also known as the common black ant, is a real headache for gardeners. They nest in grassy areas and eat ripe fruits, especially fruits like strawberries. Black or dark brown workers are about 3-5 mm (⅛-3/16 of an inch) long. Lasius niger queens are extremely tenacious, their average life expectancy is 15 years and some even survive for up to 30 years. Compare this with fire ant queens who live for 3 years on average. Black garden ants build their nests in the soil and under various objects, such as stones, wood, construction materials debris, as well as in hollows and inside some rotten wood. They feed on small insects and other invertebrates, aphids’ secretions and other sweets. They breed aphids on fruit trees and garden plants to consume their secretions. In early summer, they usually explore new areas in search of new food sources. They can make their way through the brickwork and cement and find or create new trails there. It is this species that people use for observation, creating artificial lab ant farms.
Odorous house ant. They are small black ants ⅛ of an inch long. Their color varies from dark brown to shiny black. They have an uneven chest and exude a strong smell if crushed. They feed on insects, aphids’ secretion and sweet foods. They lay their trails along tree branches, house foundations and skirting boards, along the wiring and pipes and carpet edges. Outside, they tend to live in colonies in the soil under stones, fallen trees or garbage, and in apartments, they build nests in house walls, around water pipes and heating pipes. Their colonies are usually large and can number up to 10 thousand insects with many queens. If they have occupied the walls, the entomologists recommend spraying insecticides in the cracks. If you do not know the exact location of their nest, use poisonous baits.
Pavement ant. Workers are dark brown or black, all of them are 3/16 of an inch long. They feed on sweets and insects and can also get in food rich in fats. They won’t spurn pet food and prefer to go “grocery shopping” at night. Their mounds are located in turf, under stones, wood or paving tiles and small anthills can be found near water sources. A colony has one queen, different colonies are at war.
Crazy ants. These are black shiny ants 1/16 of an inch long. As the University of Florida, scientists explain, that their common name arises from its characteristic, erratic and rapid movement, and habit of not following trails as often as other ants. Their antennae and limbs are much longer than other species. They hunt insects or gather the secretions of aphids and scale insects. In the United States, they have widespread population from Florida to South Carolina and west to Texas; it can also be encountered in other states.
Little black ants. They are tiny, from 1/32 to 1/16 of an inch in length. Their presence can be detected by small craters in the ground. They often forage long distances from their nests, so their nests are often difficult to control. They live near trees or stone buildings and sometimes penetrate houses. Their preferences in food are unpretentious. They are widely distributed throughout southeastern Canada as well as northern and eastern sections of the United States, southward to the Pacific Coast. They are common in the southern half of California and in the San Francisco Bay area.
Carpenter ant — Camponotus spp. Adult workers reach ¼-½ of an inch in length and are black or black and red. If you disturb them, they will exude a typical odor. They feed on insects, aphids’ secretion, fruit nectar and other sweets. They are nasty indeed as they gnaw maze trails and galleries in dry wood where their colony settles. Initially, their presence goes unnoticed. If you happen to face this very species, read our guide, “How to get rid of carpenter ants”.