Deciding which is the best ant killer is a crucial decision, and it should be a well-informed one when made. Get it wrong, and you risk splitting the colony and doubling your infestation instead of banishing them.
To make the right decision, you must first understand ants.
Ants come in many different species, and each is unique, but they all have one thing in common: social responsibility.
They live in colonies, which means they all work for the Queen’s greater good and her empire. And it is this that stacks the odds in our favor.
Always on the lookout for food, forager ants will leave a pheromone trail for others to follow when they find food. Ants are attracted to both greasy and sweet foods. They are drawn to eat and share poison when the recipe uses something sweet or greasy.
But when confronted by all the products available, do you go for bait stations, liquid or spray killers, or powdered versions?
Stick around, and we’ll show you.
Here we have our top 5 ant killer products listed with a rundown of why they’re good and how they will assist you. That way, you can choose what’s best for your ant exodus.
What You'll Learn
- 1 What to Consider When Choosing an Ant Killer?
- 2 What Are The Best Types of Ant Killer?
- 3 Best Ant Killers in 2020
- 4 Conclusion
What to Consider When Choosing an Ant Killer?
Ants, they are persistent, resilient, and abundant. They come out of nowhere and are the most common pest that homeowners must deal with.
Some homeowners will reach for sprays, others for ant powder, and some just don’t know where to start or how best to get rid of the pesky critters.
Well, the best place to start is to identify what type of ant you have in your midst.
With so many ant species out there, it’s good to know what you’re dealing with and why. Once you have identified the type of ant or ants you have, you can better choose which ant killer you go for.
Ants can be soil-nesting or wood-nesting, and they are strategic and opportunistic in choosing their nest site. There are both polydomous (multiple nest sites) and polygynous (multiple queens) to think about too.
You can identify ants that nest in the soil by their foraging activities on ground level hard standing surfaces, such as patios or countertops. Compared to wood-nesters who rummage through damp wood and mulch.
To make it confusing, some species of ant are both polydomous AND polygynous. This makes the challenge even more problematic because they have multiple colonies and queens.
The fastest way to control ants is to find and treat the ant colony or colonies directly, which isn’t always easy with polydomous species. You might have to spend a few hours following them around until you locate all the nests.
Then, once you know what type of ants they are, first and foremost, you need to ascertain if you have ants inside, outside, or both?
Different products have different effectiveness levels based on where you will be using them. This will also be a crucial driver of what ant killer you choose.
Some products will be effective quickly but create a fair bit of mess. And some will be slow-acting but conveniently packaged for easy cleanup.
Others will kill the ants immediately in front of you. And some will destroy everything, including the colony, for a complete ant armageddon.
Your decision-making process will also be driven by whether you have little people running about the house and garden, or furry friends that co-habit with you.
As you will need to make sure the product you choose is pet and kid-friendly, with no toxic ingredients that could make them severely ill.
What Are The Best Types of Ant Killer?
With multiple applications available in both solid and liquid format, it helps if you know what type of ant killer does what.
Here are the main types with a generalized rundown of what they do and how:
These are usually designed to kill on contact. Simply point, shoot, and smother the ants that you see in the liquid, and it will kill them in seconds. It is instantly gratifying if you have them all in a cupboard or over worktops.
This ant killer type is not so great if you want to be rid of them long term as the ants die too quickly to take the toxic ingredients back to the colony.
These products’ modus operandi is a sweet sticky gel applied directly into the ants’ path. And they won’t be able to resist eating and sharing it with their mates.
It will have a known ant toxin in the recipe so that they ingest it and carry it back to the colony.
This type of ant killer is slow-acting. But it will eventually kill all of the ants that come in to contact with it and kill the Queen and the colony of offspring when they feed each other.
Ant gel is excellent for long-term results.
Ant Bait Stations
These nicely packaged traps will contain liquid or gel ant killer that will attract the ants without being messy. The sweet meal on offer is, of course, toxic. And they take it back to the Queen and her ant kingdom.
The benefit of these is that they are ready to go straight out of the packet.
Remove the cap, and just lay the traps where you see ants, replace when empty, then repeat until the ants are gone. This option is great for worktops and cupboards with no mess and no fuss.
Granular Ant Killer
Soluble granules have a dual application, which means they can be used inside and out.
To apply, you can either scatter the granules around the ant paths and nest. Or you can dissolve some in water and pour it directly into the nest to attack the problem at the heart of the colony.
You could also make doubly sure that they go to ant heaven by doing both.
A granular ant killer is a good option for long term solutions with quick results.
This all-natural, non-toxic pesticide is either all singing and all dancing, or not worth your money depending on which article or review you read.
Unlike other chemical ant killers, this approach does not kill the ants by relying on them to consume it. Instead, it uses tiny fossilized phytoplankton that scrapes, scratches, and punctures the ant’s exoskeleton, causing it to dehydrate.
Diatomaceous earth is safe for pets and kids, and it is good for the environment too.
So it’s worth checking out as an alternative to commercial ant killers as you can spread it and let it do its thing without having to keep the kids and Fido locked up.
Best Ant Killers in 2020
Using all of the information above, we have researched the market for the best ant killers out there.
We have found a selection of the different types of ant killers so that there is something here for every reader and every ant problem.
So, here are our favorite ant killers that not only do the job but do it well.
Best Overall – Terro T300 Liquid Bait Station
The Terro T300 liquid bait station is a well-designed easy to use ant killer that is sold in multipacks (available in 3+ stations). It is ready to go straight out of the packet, and all you need to do is twist off the cap and lay it in the path of the ant or near to the nest if you have located it.
It is perfect for baseboards and worktops with a solid flat-bottomed body where you want ant killer without the mess.
Just be sure to disinfect the surfaces once you have finished with the trap. This will eradicate the pheromone laid down by the worker ants and will stop ants tracking back to that location. Plus, it’s just the hygienic thing to do.
Terro T300 bait stations contain borax, which is the toxin that kills the ants. Borax, also called sodium tetraborate, has a powdery white appearance. It is well-known as a washing powder additive, and it is also used for disinfection, whitening, and fighting mold and mildew.
Mixed with any sugary sweet substance and water, it will become an attractant to ants. Terro has created a unique recipe that many people recommend (give it a quick google).
Borax does not poison the ants as you may have thought, it merely causes havoc with their digestive system, which in turn causes them to die.
The T300 liquid bait station is transparent so that you can monitor ant activity in and around the station as the days progress.
If you notice that the station isn’t seeing much action, you can reposition or add extras around the house.
- Simple setup
- Uses effective toxin
- Kills ants and the colony
- No mess, easy cleanup
- Chemical action means ants can become tolerant, immune.
- The slow-acting process can mean more ants before they disappear for good
Runner Up – Maxforce Poison Tubes Gel
- Active Ingredient:Fipronil
- Target pests:This product controls a broad spectrum of ants: Argentine, Ghost, little black, Odorous House, and Pavement, Honey.
- Bait will remain effective for up to two weeks.
- Apply gel in spots in cracks and crevices. For best results, place many spots of dabs of gel where you see ants foraging and entering the structure
- The gel will stay attractive to ants for up to two weeks. Inspect gel placement and reapply as needed.
Maxforce ant bait gel is effective against all kinds of ants according to the manufacturer’s claims. Including, but not limited to, the Argentine ant, the odorous house ant, ghost ants, pavement ants, the cornfield ant, and little black ants.
Maxforce contains the active ingredient fipronil, and fipronil belongs to a family of chemicals called phenylpyrazoles. These chemicals act as nerve receptor blockers.
With a breakdown in the central nervous system, the ant cannot perform its basic bodily functions and eventually suffers from organ shutdown and dies.
The fipronil recipe in Maxforce is formulated as a slow-release toxin to work at the same rate as the ants’ process of trophallaxis. That’s the posh name for how the ants feed their larvae regurgitated food.
The idea behind it being a slow-releasing substance means it gives the worker ants time to return to the colony and feed the larvae and the Queen. That way, it kills the whole colony. Horah!
The gel comes in a pack of 4 tubes that look and act like a syringe. The plunger included should be connected to the tube, and then you should remove the tip. Then apply the gel to wherever the ants are foraging.
The gel is sticky enough to be applied to vertical surfaces for those situations where the ants use cracks in the walls to enter the house.
Once applied, monitor what the ants take and re-apply where necessary. According to the manufacture instructions, the full effect and death of the colony can take up to 35 days. Patience is critical here, but it works.
- Simple squeeze and apply design
- Effective toxin recipe using fipronil
- Sticks to vertical surfaces, unlike bait stations
- Slow working action means maximum effect
- Leaves a lot of mess
- Very slow acting, up to 35 days
Best Spray – Terro T401SR
Ant sprays are great for instant relief from those unwanted visitors at the dinner table or countertop.
The Terro T401SR aerosol spray kills on contact but also affects the central nervous system. This means that it will affect the ant whether they eat it or only come into contact with it.
According to the manufacturer, it is effective for up to 6 weeks after the first application.
With a 10 to 15 feet range, it is perfect for indoor and outdoor use as you can point and shoot directly at problem areas, even if you can’t reach them. This is great for small spaces, crevices, and cracks in walls and cupboards, and hard to reach roof spaces.
It gives you complete coverage of both ant troops and the surfaces they are on. Meaning any other ants that pass through after the first battle will still pick up the toxin and carry it around to other ants and the colony.
It is effective against carpenter ants, carpenter bees, Asian lady beetles, box elder bugs, spiders, cockroaches, and many other pests.
TERRO T401SR contains permethrin and tetramethrin, which are insecticides that belong to the pyrethroid family. These are man-made chemicals that act like natural extracts from the chrysanthemum flower, pyrethrins. And they have been used as insecticides for many years.
Pyrethrins are much more toxic to animals than the pyrethroid in this Terro product. Products containing permethrin are commonly used in public health mosquito control programs.
They may also be used on crops, as lawn treatments, livestock and pets for pest control, and buildings to rid them of pesky bugs.
Permethrin affects the nervous system in insects, causing muscle spasms, paralysis, and death. Permethrin is effective on insects as their bodies cannot break it down quickly enough to reduce the toxicity. Thankfully, it is harmless to humans and dogs.
- Easy to point and shoot aerosol design
- Can be used inside and out
- Effective for up to 6 weeks
- Works as a preventative measure
- Strong chemical smell
- It can be toxic to cats and smaller pets.
Best Pet Safe – Orange Guard Home Pest Control
Have you ever noticed that the thick orange skin peel is never bitten into, by anything? That’s because concentrated orange extract found in the peel is a natural repellant.
After this observation and reading about someone decimating an anthill by pouring citrus hand cleaner on it, the creators of Orange Guard produced this non-toxic pesticide.
Orange Guard uses concentrated orange peel extract, also known as D-limonene, to kill them on contact. It also acts as a residual repellent for any other insects thinking of moving in once the ants are gone.
It is effective on ants, cockroaches, fleas, and many other insects. And it is an excellent all-rounder for indoor and outdoor use.
Orange guard is completely non-toxic, and water-based so you can use it worry-free around food, kids, and pets. All the ingredients found in Orange Guard are on the FDA’s ‘generally recognized as safe’ list.
This list represents what the FDA deems as acceptable to go into food for human consumption. Plus, it is also listed as organic by the Organic Materials Review Institute.
So, you can rest assured that should Fido or the kids decide to give it a taste test, they’ll be fine and dandy other than screwing up their face at the strong citrus odor.
Orange Guard can be used neat as a wipe-on repellent that you can just wipe or spread onto surfaces and sills to prevent insects from entering your house. Or you can dilute it and make up spray bottles for shooting at the ants directly.
In both forms, it smells excellent with no nasty chemical odor like other aerosol sprays.
The added benefit of Orange Guard is that it is an excellent cleaner and degreaser, so you can use it as a general-purpose cleaner too. Cleaning day-to-day mess and repelling insects makes this a win-win for the homestead.
- Pet safe
- Smells great
- Kills on contact
- Repels insects to prevent a return
- Can be messy and sticky
- Not as fast-acting as other chemical-based sprays
Amdro Liquid Ant Bait Stations, 6 Pack
The Amdro liquid bait station is for both indoor and outdoor use. So, whether you’re trying to get ants out of your house or stop them coming in, you can place these bait stations where you have seen the ants and let them do their thing.
The top entry design makes this station more durable, and it prevents spills compared with the end-opening stations.
The drawback to this design is that the smaller ant types will often get trapped within and drown in the bait liquid. But these are fantastic for bigger ants. It also means that the liquid evaporates easier if left in direct sunlight.
These Amdro liquid bait stations are simple to use with their straightforward design. The housing is a clear container that holds a pool of liquid bait with just one entry and exit point to reduce mess. The ants crawl in, attracted to the sweet mixture, and help themselves to the tasty syrup-like food containing borax.
Borax is a naturally occurring substance that has been used for many years as a cleaning substance. It causes havoc with an ant’s digestive system when eaten, which is why it is used as an ant killer.
It is mixed in with the bait in a small enough dose so that it works very slowly. This way, the ants can eat it and carry it back to the colony to share before they succumb to it themselves.
A good borax ant killer is effective against most types of ant, including Argentine, big-headed, ghost, cornfield, crazy, little black, odorous house, pavement, white-footed, and other sweet-eating ants.
- Easy to use
- No mess
- Indoor and outdoor use
- Effect borax recipe
- Top-mounted entrance can trap smaller ants
- Top hole means liquid can evaporate in direct sunlight
Well, there you have it – our top 5 ant killer products to suit every homeowner and every ant problem. All are great, effective products to use when you have an infestation you need to tackle.
Whether you want something that will instantly kill the critters for peace of mind and satisfaction, or you just want to make sure they are gone for good. There is something on the list for every ant problem.
If, for whatever reason, one product does not work for you, try a different one, or multiple at the same time. As with all pesticides, some species’ strains will become immune to the toxins and can build up a tolerance to them.
If that has happened, try putting down two types of bait, and whichever one the ants prefer, give them more of. Easy peasy.
Some products are pet friendly, some are human friendly, and some not so much. Depending on your circumstances and the environment your ants find themselves in, you may wish to get the harsher synthetic pesticides or want an organic one.
Hopefully, we have helped you understand the options a little better and assist you in making an informed decision.
So, let us know which product you go for and how it works out for you in the comments below. Or, if you have hints or tips for your fellow readers, we’d love to hear them.
Happy ant hunting!