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TOP-10 Best Ant Sprays | 2019 Beneficial Buyer’s Guide

Updated : 17 July 2019
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What is the best ant spray? It is important that the product is based on active ingredients that have been tested and have proved to be effective. The solutions that can effectively treat porous and non-porous materials should be preferred. This is because concrete foundations and many other sites that harbor ants often have high porosity. Choosing between concentrates and ready-to-use solutions, opt for the former because you are most likely to make repeated applications to get rid of these pests. Concentrates are more economical in use and will eventually allow you to save money. And finally, the product should be intended for using not only outdoors but also indoors including the areas where the food is served. We believe that Bayer Suspend SC meets these criteria best and is the most potent liquid insecticide for ant control.

This guide discusses TOP-10 best ant sprays based on both chemicals and natural ingredients. What is the most powerful insecticide? Are products based on essential oils really safe? What kind of bacterium it is that paralyzes ants, killing them slowly? The guide explains how these solutions work, what is the difference between them and whether it is worth trying homemade recipes..

What You Will Learn From This Guide:

Before anything else, you should figure out whether this method will be appropriate in your case. How can you tell whether this will work? The key factor to consider is the level of infestation.

Experts from the University of California note that spraying is unlikely to affect the colony living underneath the soil. Actually, you will eliminate only those insect that you see with your own eyes. You may pour liquid insecticide in a mound or try to kill a queen ant on contact. By the way, the queen is easy to identify as it is generally larger in size and has wings. However, it is baits that can effectively eliminate the entire colony. You should also distinguish residual insecticides that last longer and repel ants weeks after the treatment.

This method works immediately as the pests are killed on contact but will not affect the rest of the colony. So the verdict is that sprays are good only for small issues with ants or as part of a comprehensive approach.

How to Use an Ant Spray?

First and foremost, you should never use them in a combination with baits, says Barb Ogg, an entomologist from Nebraska-Lincoln University. The idea of the latter is to attract as many insects as possible and, more importantly, allowing them not only to consume the poison but also carry it back to the nest. Whereas residual insecticides will kill the potential “carriers,” ruining your plans to destroy the entire colony.

Another factor you should take into account is that this method is labor-consuming and will take much time as you will have to detect mounds and treat them. Liquid insecticides come either in ready-to-use solutions or concentrates. The latter ones are more potent but need to be diluted with water according to the label directions.

For safety reasons, avoid using sprays indoors as they are toxic enough to irritate the lungs or cause other health issues. Experts from PennState University do not recommend creating an insecticidal barrier around the house because ant killers are very powerful and can eliminate beneficial insects in the area.

Still, a barrier treatment is very effective in preventing ants from entering the house. Scientists from the University of Kentucky suggest applying chemical solutions around the outside the building’s perimeter. The treated area can be as large as 6 feet along the foundation and about 3 feet up the wall. You should focus on ant trails as well as spots around the windows and doors.

How To Choose the Best Ant Spray?

In fact, there are two main types of products to choose from, depending on whether they are based on natural or chemical formulations. The latter ones have proven to be the most effective and are suggested by scientists.

For example, treating below-ground nests with potent chemical insecticides would be a good idea. Michael F. Potter, an entomologist from the University of Kentucky, mentions Bifenthrin, Cyfluthrin, Lambda-Cyhalothrin, and Deltamethrin as the most effective active ingredients that are included in the products developed to control ants. When applying these solutions, you should strictly follow the label directions as they are not only powerful but also toxic.

Natural solutions. Some homeowners may be tempted to opt for natural solutions because they are considered to be safer. Let’s see whether it would be a wise choice. Actually, much depends on the ingredients included in the formulation. Researchers from Clemson University listed a number of ingredients that are believed to work on ants.

  • Limonene-based products. Citrus oils are insecticides killing ants on contact while being relatively safe for dogs, fish, and humans. However, cats and some people are known to be allergic to citrus oils. 
  • Insecticides containing Eugenol, a compound extracted from clove oil, are fast-acting solutions intended for controlling a wide range of pests including ants. They do not harm the environment but can cause eye irritation, which is why you should wear protective glasses during the application process. 
  • Spinosad is produced by a bacterium that lives in the soil. Once an ant consumes Spinosad, it cannot feed anymore but can stay alive for a couple of days. The solution has low-toxicity to humans and pets but is able to harm beneficial insect. It is available both in the form of soap and concentrate. 

TOP-10 Best Ant Sprays

Below, you will find a review of TOP-10 products at a price range from $5 to $100. You will find here solutions for all tastes: heavy insecticides based on chemical compounds that have proved to be effective against ants, natural solutions with essential oils as active ingredients as well as formulations containing substances produced by soil bacteria.

Ant Spray for Indoor and Outdoor Use | Ortho Home Defense

Ortho Ant Spray for Indoor and Outdoor Use: photo

One gallon of this powerful insecticide provides up to one year of protection against ants as well as spiders and cockroaches. Based on Bifenthrin and Zeta-Cypermethrin, it covers an area of up to 5,000 square feet.

The solution is recommended for creating 12-inch barriers around the building, doors, and windows. You will feel comfortable with using this stuff as it neither has an offensive smell nor stains the treated materials. More importantly, the product comes with a reusable spray wand for easy application.

Ortho: Look for details

However, some customers complain that the wand becomes faulty very quickly. And this is not the only weak point of the product. According to the manufacturer, the effect is guaranteed only when the solution is applied to nonporous surfaces, whereas these are the materials where the bugs like hiding.

Home Insect Killer, Liquid Gallon | Harris

Home Insect Killer Harris: photo

Why does the volume matter? It is essential because in most cases, you have to make repeated applications to get rid of bugs. This one-gallon solution at a price of about $20 would be a good choice for those who have to deal with severe infestations.

In addition, this canister is easy to use due to the extended trigger sprayer that allows for targeting hard-to-reach areas. Harris Home Pest Control has a long-lasting residue, however, it does not compare favorably with that of Ortho Home Defense. EPA-registered product with an active ingredient Deltamethrin, it neither stains fabrics nor has any unpleasant odor.

Harris: Look for details

Consumers who deal with ant issues do not think highly of this product though, complaining that it does not stop these bugs and they are not making headway at all.

Powerful Professional Liquid Insecticide | Bayer Suspend SC

Powerful Professional Liquid Insecticide: photo

The active ingredient of this concentrate is Deltamethrin, an insecticide applied to ornamental plants and lawns outdoors as well as cracks and crevices indoors. Do not be misled by a higher price in comparison with other items on the list — about $50. It is very economical as one pint will make over 50 gallons of ready-to-use solutions.

This product has many advantages: it is odorless, controls over half-a-hundred pest species, has long-lasting residue (up to 4 months), and is effective both at low and high concentrations. Additional attention could be given to the fact that the insecticide is permitted for application in food preparation areas such as the kitchen.

Suspend SC: Look for details

And not only that. Feel free to treat mattresses and furniture items with Suspend SC since Deltamethrin is considered to be relatively safe to use around humans, given the label directions are followed. Perhaps one of the most important product property is its efficacy on porous materials, such as concrete that has a high porosity.

Natural Ant Spray | Harris

Harris Natural Ant Spray: photo

If your choice is an eco-friendly natural solution, take a look at this item. Since the solution is based on the oils of clove (Eugenol) and cottonseed, naturally derived ingredients, it is safe to use around humans and pets.

Once an ant comes in contact with the insecticide, it will die within half an hour or so. You can use it both inside and outside the house as well as for the perimeter treatment. Like Bayer Suspend SC, this solution can be applied in food preparation areas but it is certainly less effective and has a short-term effect.

Harris: Look for details

I would like to highlight a substantial benefit of this product — while many insecticides have the disadvantage of having an offensive smell, this one boasts a pleasant scent of essential oils. Also, a 20-ounce bottle is not expensive, given that natural solutions are quite pricey.

Water-Based Indoor/Outdoor Ant Spray | Orange Guard

Water-Based Indoor/Outdoor Ant Spray: photo

For the same price, you get another solution based on water and naturally derived ingredient, namely d-Limonene extracted from orange peels. That said, this product has a larger volume than the previous one — 32 ounces so it is more economical. More importantly, it has residue and can be used to repel bugs, not only kill them on contact.

Apart from ants, the insecticide is labeled for cockroaches and fleas, the most common household insects. You may apply the solution around humans and in the kitchen, but keep in mind that citrus oils can cause allergies in some people and are often toxic to cats. The product is registered with EPA.

Customers say that it works both as an insecticide killing on contact and a repellent with residue. When applying it indoors, spray a third of the solution on the bugs so that the treated area becomes wet enough. Treat the house perimeter to create a protective barrier.

Orange Guard: Check the current price

Aerosol Spray for Ants | Terro

Terro Aerosol Spray for Ants: photo

What I like about this product is its portability and convenience in use. With the weight of just one pound, this 16-ounce can is easy to use, allowing you to reach hard-to-reach areas. Compared with the previous item, this one has shorter residue lasting for just 6 weeks.

The solution is based on Prallethrin, an active ingredient that belongs to Pyrethroid chemical class and is recommended by scientists to treat both ant trails and the house perimeter.

For safety reasons and to maximize the impact, use it only when the weather is windless. Do not point the nozzle in the face and hold it on a downward angle. You may apply this insecticide both indoors and outdoors but make sure you do not use it around pets, children, and the food preparation area.

The product’s drawback lies in that the solution is not suggested for use to control fire ants, whereas it works great on most other species of ants.

Terro: Check the current price

Ant Foam | Combat Max

Ant Foam Combat Max: photo

I advise applying this solution when you need to treat hard-to-reach areas. No liquid penetrates as deep as foam does. Once applied, the insecticide dissipates within minutes, effectively expanding into crevices and cracks due to Combat’s unique micro-foam technology. As a result, it gets the insects where they hide.

Combat Max: Look for details

Apply the solution in small amounts, focusing on crevices, baseboards, areas around sinks, pipes, doors, and windows as well as beneath appliances. It works by killing the bugs on contact, lasting for up to 10 months. The product contains 2 powerful active ingredients: Neo-Pynamin and Cypermethrin. On top of that, it is economical as you get an almost 18-ounce can for some $5.

Concentrate for Yard, Lawns and Landscapes | Spectracide Triazicide

Concentrate for Yard, Lawns and Landscapes: photo

This 32-ounce bottle is the most expensive product on the list and will cost you about $100. What is so good about this formula? Well, it targets a huge number of pests — over two hundred species. But I doubt that you will need it as long as ants are your only pest issue. It would not be wise to pay extra money for the possibility to eliminate pests that have never bothered you.

Another benefit this insecticide offers is its fast-acting concentrated formula, offering a 5,000-square-foot coverage area. So if you need to kill a lot of various insects and very quickly, opt for this item. In addition, it can be applied not just to flowers and plants, but also edible fruits and vegetables. In order to make a ready-to-use solution, you should mix the concentrate with water in accordance with the label directions.

Spectracide Triazicide: Look for details

The solution contains Gamma-cyhalothrin which is believed to be the most insecticidally active isomer. Still, its residue is just 3 months, which is not much in comparison with other products on the list. Anyway, the manufacturer promises a money-back guarantee for those customers who will find this insecticide ineffective.

Natural Incecticides for Yard | Spinosad-Based Ant Spray

Monterey Garden Insect Spray: photoNatural Guard Spinosad Soap: photo

Those who are seeking safe and natural solutions may be interested in insecticides based on Spinosad, a substance produced by bacteria living in the soil. The stuff is toxic to insects and works by affecting their nervous system. Once consumed by an insect, the substance paralyzes it. The bug will stay alive for a while but will not be able to feed, which will result in its death within one or two days.

Take a look at a Monterey insecticide with Spinosad, a product that is highly popular among consumers. This is a 32-ounce canister of concentrate that needs to be diluted. Mix the concentrate with water according to the label and apply to the foliage with a hose-end sprayer. The downside is that this formulation can be applied outdoors only, however, it is where these pesky bugs come from. And feel free to treat flowers and plants including the edible ones.

There is another solution containing Spinosad as an active ingredient. The major difference is in its soap formulation, something that may be considered by some users as a clear advantage. The spray is produced by VPG Fertilome and has the same volume as Monterey but is two times cheaper. The Spinosad soap can be used not more than ten times a year and should not be sprayed in direct sunlight.

Comparison Chart of Ant Spray Effectiveness

Product Features

Ortho Home Defense

Active ingredients: Bifenthrin and Zeta-Cypermethrin
Covers up to 5,000 sq. ft.
Residue lasts for up to one year
Comes with a reusable wand
Creates a bug barrier
Weight: 10.7 pounds
Effectiveness: 10

Terro

Terro Aerosol Spray for Ants min: photo

Active ingredients: Prallethrin
Residue lasts for up to 6 weeks
Weight: 1 pound
Portable and lightweight
Effectiveness: 8

Bayer Suspend SC

Active ingredients: Deltamethrin
Residue lasts for up to 4 months
Makes over 50 gallons of ready-to-use solutions
Can be used in food preparation areas and around humans
Works on porous surfaces
Odorless
Weight: 1.1 pounds
Effectiveness: 10

Harris New Natural

Active ingredients: oils of clove (Eugenol) and cottonseed
Can be used in food preparation areas and around humans
Pleasant scent
Weight: 1.5 pounds
Effectiveness: 8

Orange Guard

Water-Based Indoor/Outdoor Ant Spray min: photo

Active ingredients: d-Limonene
Can be used in food preparation areas and around humans
Creates a bug barrier
Economical
Weight: 2.3 pounds
Effectiveness: 9

Harris Home Insect Killer

Active ingredients: Deltamethrin
Comes with an extended trigger sprayer
Long-lasting residue
Low odor
Does not stain fabric
Weight: 7.9 pounds
Effectiveness: 9

Combat Max

Active ingredients: Neo-Pynamin and Cypermethrin
Based on a unique micro-foam technology
Expands into hard-to-reach areas
Long-lasting residue
Weight: 1.4 pounds
Effectiveness: 10

Spectracide Triazicide

Active ingredients: Gamma-cyhalothrin
Covers over 5,000 sq. ft.
Residue lasts for up to 3 months
Targets over 200 pests
Can be applied to vegetables and fruits
Weight: 15.2 pounds
Effectiveness: 10

Monterey

Active ingredients: Spinosad
For outdoor use
Liquid concentrate 
Can be applied to vegetables and fruits
Weight: 1.2 pounds
Effectiveness: 10

VPG Fertilome

Active ingredients: Spinosad
For outdoor use
Soap 
Can be applied to vegetables and fruits
Weight: 2.26 pounds
Effectiveness: 9

Can You Get Rid of Mounds Using Sprays and Liquid Insecticides?

Simply destroying mounds is not an option. The ants will find another place nearby and establish the nest there. Alternatively, they can rebuild the ruined mound in a while. As a result, not only will your efforts be in vain, but you may also be bitten by irritated ants.

How to treat mounds with liquid insecticides

Howard Russell from Michigan State University notes that one of the options is to pour liquid insecticide into a mound. To his end, you should scrape away the top of the mound with the help of a shovel. You will see tunnels there.

“To confine and concentrate the insecticide on the mound, it’s best to shovel out a depression or bowl centered on the mound. This will cause the insecticide to drain into the mound and not run off,” Mr. Russell advises. He also recommends using a brush to remove the bugs that will crawl on you.

You will need much insecticide (about 2 gallons of diluted concentrate per mound, otherwise you will not be able to reach the queen and eradicate the entire colony.

Terri Billeisen from NC State University says that the best time to treat the ant nest with insecticide is mid-morning when its inhabitants are closer to the ground surface. One more valuable recommendation is not to disturb the nest after treating it with insecticide.

Still, Whitney Cranshaw, an entomologist from Colorado State University, warns that the application of insecticides directly to mounds targets only surface foragers and provides a short-term effect. This is because the bulk of the bugs inside the nest are more likely to avoid the insecticide since the nest can be several feet in depth.

Identifying Mounds

Mounds differ depending on ant species.

  • Pavement ants establish small mounds near pavements.
  • Field ants typically inhabit gardens and set up nests in the loose soil.
  • One of the largest species, carpenter ants, construct their mounds in forests, however, sometimes they settle in buildings.
  • Cornfield ants and odorous house ants establish nests outdoors but may penetrate the house when foraging for food. 
  • Pharaoh ants nest indoors, causing problems for many hospitals and dorms. 
  • Unlike many other species, fire ants establish mounds without an opening in the center of the nest as they use underground tunnels to get inside. 

Perimeter Treatments of Buildings

Generally, ants enter the house from outdoor colonies established outside the building, foraging for food. Since it is always easier to prevent any infestation than eradicate it, creating insecticidal barriers is key to success in your pest control strategy.

Perimeter treatment is an effective way to keep ants away from your house. Researchers from the University of California suggest using products that contain such active ingredients as Bifenthrin, Cypermethrin, and Lambda-Cyhalothrin.

However, they claim that establishing perimeter barriers around a building provides a short-term effect and targets only foraging bugs which account for a small portion of the colony. Worse still, the perimeter treatment can be more of a hindrance than a help since those ants that have already entered the house may found themselves trapped indoors by the created insecticidal barrier.

Since the insecticide intended for a perimeter treatment should have a long residual, it means a higher level of toxicity. And this is another weak point of this method. Specialists at PennState University claim that this carries a risk of eliminating beneficial insects in the yard.

And yet, this is one of the effective ways to prevent the bugs from penetrating indoors. Experts from Colorado State University recommend applying the insecticide directly to the soil close to the building and the lower part of the walls. Pay attention to the areas near foundation cracks, around the doors and windows. Spray two to three feet up the wall while the soil and vegetation should be treated five feet away from the walls.

FAQ

What is the difference between ant bait and sprays?
Ant baits is a slow-acting and more effective way to get rid of these pests. While sprays target only foragers that come in contact with the insecticide, baits can be carried to the nest and affect the rest of the colony. In addition, these methods work in a different way: sprays repel while baits attract.

What active ingredients help to eliminate ants?
When it comes to chemical compounds, such ingredients as Bifenthrin, Cyfluthrin, Lambda-cyhalothrin, and Deltamethrin are believed to be the most potent against ants. Among the naturally derived ingredients, Limonene, Eugenol, and Spinosad could be your top choice.

Do I need different kinds of sprays for different kinds of ants?
There are solutions developed specifically for different species, for example, fire ants or carpenter ants. However, most commercial insecticides are developed to work on various species of insects.

How do I know when it’s time to switch to long-term ant killer?
Once you see a growing infestation inside or outside the house, it is time to put baits in your arsenal. As I have mentioned before, spraying is good just in case of small ant problems.

Should You Use Homemade Ant Sprays?

Actually, it is not just a matter of effectiveness. Some homemade solutions may cause a certain amount of damage. Karen Russ, a specialist from Clemson University recommends against using homemade soap mixtures as they can harm plants. Whereas commercially available insecticidal soaps are adapted to applying to foliage and safer for the yard’s ecosystem.

Such substances as ammonia, bleach, and all sorts of acids may be dangerous to pets and can contaminate the water.

If you pour hot water on the mound, you will eliminate about 60% of the ants but, at the same time, you are likely to kill surrounding plants as well. You sure it is worth it?

Do what about their effectiveness? Researchers from Stanford University have discovered that households cleansers are less potent than sprays while solutions based on natural ingredients are the least effective. Homemade remedies neither eliminate the colony nor have residue. Although being commonly known as homemade solutions, vinegar and Baking soda have not been scientifically proven to have any effect on these pests.

Still, if you want to give it a try, here are some recipes for you:

  • Mix a dishwashing detergent with citrus oil. This is perhaps the most effective homemade solution.
  • Mix equal parts of vinegar and water. This mixture is the safest one for foliage.
  • Mix one-quarter of a cup of alcohol with 3-4 drops clove oil.

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