In this guide to the best ant traps, we’re going to tell you what makes ant traps the better option compared to ant killer (sometimes).
We also discuss what types of ant traps are available, when they are best used, and what to consider before you go out to make a purchase.
Ants, love them or loathe them, they are abundant and a natural part of the food chain, so they are here to stay.
Which is fine just as long as they decide to stay in someone else’s yard, right? So, what do you do when they’ve chosen your pad to set up home? You read this article, of course.
By the time you’ve read this concise but information-dense guide, you will know what to use and when. So that you can ensure your efforts are useful and the results are fast.
So, let’s get stuck into the ant trap details.
What You'll Learn
- 1 What Are Ant Traps?
- 2 Ant Trap Vs. Ant Killer – What’s the Difference?
- 3 Are Ant Traps for for both Indoor and Outdoor Use?
- 4 The Different Types of Ant Traps Available
- 5 What to Consider When Choosing Ant Traps
- 6 Best Ant Traps Reviewed
- 7 Conclusion
What Are Ant Traps?
The name ‘ant trap’ can be a little misleading. It conjures pictures of ants climbing into something that they can’t get out of when the opposite is true.
Easy entry and exit mean that the ants can come and go freely. ‘Bait station’ would, and often is, a better way of describing these products.
Most ant traps are effectively a container in which a mixture of a tasty attractant and ant killer is held. More often than not, the mix is based on either protein or sugar, as these are the foods that ants search for.
This is precisely why they like to join in when you have a picnic with bread, jam, and sweet treats are on the menu.
The goal of the ant trap is to entice the worker ants in, to then take some of the tasty ant killer food on offer. They will then take it back to the colony while leaving a pheromone trail for other ants to follow.
They then work together to gather the food and take as much as possible back to feed the queen and the larvae, killing them all in the process with the fatal mix.
The pros for ant traps is that they kill the ants from the colony outwards for complete clearance. Additionally, they are easy to set up, and they come with a variety of different poisons or insecticides to choose from.
The cons of this type of ant control are that it isn’t immediate. It can take a few days to take full effect, so you will have to live with your new house guests a little longer before they get dispatched.
Ant Trap Vs. Ant Killer – What’s the Difference?
As already touched on, ant traps are effectively bait stations, which must be slow-acting to have the desired effect on the ants.
They are a packaged product that has to allow them to walk in and out. It needs to have a strong enough dose to kill the ants. But not before they get back to the colony and share it around.
The term ‘ant killer’ usually refers to those products that kill on contact, such as sprays and poisons that kill the ants instantly. Either by contact or very quickly after ingestion.
Ant killers are great if you have an abundance of ants in one place that you want gone as soon as possible, like a food cupboard or fridge. But the nest remains, and they will likely be back.
Ant traps are best for a long term solution to get rid of the entire colony of ants, so they cannot and do not return.
Are Ant Traps for for both Indoor and Outdoor Use?
Ant traps are probably the easiest and most convenient way of dealing with both indoor and outdoor ants at the same time.
You simply put the traps in line with where the ants are foraging, which could be in the house or the yard. Then, you just lay the traps and forget about them.
As the packaging is designed to keep the bait dry and away from other larger critters, it will last until the ants have devoured it all, or they have all died.
If the ants eat it all, just put out some more, or try a different recipe. If it’s outside and you get heavy rainfall, it is always best to replace it with a fresh one, because the original may well have had the active ingredients washed away.
The Different Types of Ant Traps Available
Ant traps can come both pre-baited or designed to take a bait of your choosing.
The pre-baited traps offer liquid, gel, or even solid granular form. Each type has the same aim, to entice the ants to eat it and share it.
Some traps will be made of clear plastic so that you can see how much activity there is in the trap. This allows you to monitor how much of the bait has been taken. Also, this way, if the ants are looking at the bait but not taking it, you will be able to see it.
Other traps are enclosed to replicate the safety of nests and underground tunnels that ants would use to travel, with the theory being they are more likely to ‘feel at home’ and take the bait.
You will see as you search for ant traps that some are protein-based, carbohydrate-based, or sugar-based.
These different food recipes mirror the ant’s natural food cycle. At certain stages in the year and reproductive cycles, they seek the different types of food.
What to Consider When Choosing Ant Traps
When choosing your ant traps, there are a few things you need to consider because not everybody’s needs are the same.
Some traps are determined by the type of ants you have, and sometimes it’s simply down to personal choice.
Here’s what uou need to consider:
What Type of Ants do You Have?
You need to determine which type of ant you have before you can decide what trap to buy, because certain ants will require specific measures.
There are many types of ants, so to identify them correctly, you will need to consult a guide to the most common types. This way, you know what to look for when you go to observe them.
You can look out for the tell-tale signs such as sawdust for the larger carpenter ant, and the red color and distinctive mounds of the fire ant. Or, a quick way to find out which kind of ant you have is to put out a spoonful of honey next to a spoonful of peanut butter.
Sugar ants, like the pavement ant and the Argentine ant, will go for the honey. In contrast, fire ants and the larger carpenter ants will prefer the protein and go for the peanut butter.
Many baits are broad-spectrum baits (these work on many types of ant). In contrast, some target a specific type of ant.
There will be instructions on the packaging, including exclusions, so read all descriptions and advice carefully, and make sure when you purchase that the traps are suitable to get rid of the correct types of ants you are suffering with.
What Season Are You In?
Finding the right trap is also based on the season that you are in, as well as considering what type of ant you have.
In the spring and beginning of summer, when the larvae are developing, most ants seek out protein-based foods.
In the middle of the summer, when they are most active, they need a quick sugar fix.
And towards the end of the summer, when they need to optimize their food intake, they seek carbohydrates.
Make sure to take this into consideration, because if the food source is incorrect for their needs, then they will not take the bait.
Is it For Indoor or Outdoor Use?
Ant traps are typically suitable for both indoor and outdoor use as they utilize an enclosed design to house the bait. This means they are relatively weatherproof as well as being less accessible for kids and pets.
Sweet recipe ant baits are the best for attracting most types of ants you would find in the home as sugar-feeding ants are more likely to forage in buildings.
Outside ants that prefer forest floors and wide-open spaces, such as carpenter ants and fire ants, are likely to go for the protein traps. This is because their diet is predominately other insects.
The protein also gives them the slow-release energy that they need. So, it’s best to put a broad spectrum or protein-based trap outside.
Does it Need to be Pet and Kid-Friendly?
If you have kids and furry friends, you may want a safe and eco-friendly ant killer that is not going to harm them.
Enclosed ant traps, by design, are not easy to get into for dogs or kids alike. However, putting them in less accessible places is always a good idea.
There are also universal ant traps that come empty, which let you choose what bait goes inside.
Whether you want a homemade recipe such as cider vinegar or washing powder and sugar, you can rest assured your loved ones won’t be tempted to eat it. Plus, you’ll be able to make as much of it as you want.
Does It Need to Be Convenient?
If you need a super convenient ant trap that you can open up and let do its thing, you should buy a trap with a bait mixture that is already made up and ready to go.
If you fancy trying out different homemade recipes, either because they might be cheaper or you want to get hands-on, you should select an empty trap. This way, you can experiment with different formulas to work out what is best for you.
Best Ant Traps Reviewed
Thankfully,each product has guidelines as to what conditions they work best in, so be sure to read the instructions before you buy them.
After much research, and in no particular order, here are four of the best ant traps we recommend, that are popular, proven to work, and that should have all circumstances covered:
TERRO Prefilled Liquid Ant Killer II Baits, 4-Pack
The Terro prefilled liquid bait station is a packaged bait station that is ready to use.
All you need to do is open the end and lay it where you have seen the ants, preferably as they make their way towards their nest because that way, they won’t venture further into your home in search of food.
With their flat-bottomed design, these bait stations are stable and prevent leaks when placed on level surfaces. They sit snugly against baseboards and will sit on worktops without the mess that open bait holders can create.
They have small pools of liquid inside that the ants can reach into for the liquid bait. This prevents them from walking through it and spreading it all over surfaces.
When you are finished with the traps, be sure to give the surfaces a good wipe down to remove any pheromones laid down by the worker ants. That way, it stops other ants from picking up the scent and wandering into your home in search of the food.
These bait stations contain borax, which used to be a common household cleaning ingredient, and it is also fatal to ants.
Borax messes with their digestive system, meaning they cannot process food, and they subsequently die. Contrary to popular belief, borax does not poison them.
The Liquid II station is made of clear plastic that allows you to monitor how much activity each station is getting. So, you can move them around if one area is working better than another. Or put out more if it attracts a lot of the little critters.
- Easy to use
- No mess
- Indoor and outdoor use
- Effective borax recipe
- End-opening can mean ants pull the liquid out with them
- Deep pools can mean a lot of waste
TERRO Outdoor Liquid Ant Killer Bait Stakes
The Terro outdoor liquid ant bait stake is specially designed for outdoor use.
The premise of these bait stations is to feed and kill the foraging ants before they cross the threshold of your property in search of food. Placing these stakes on these routes will give you control over where they forage.
This design takes the above effective Terro liquid bait station and houses it in a reinforced garden stake. These stakes can be pushed into the ground for perfect placement around the garden and perimeter of your house.
With a pull-off tab and a clear window to monitor activity and bait levels, they are an all-in-one ready to go bait station.
The bait pack is designed for the ants to enter at the top and has a tiered stepped interior. This means as the level of bait reduces, the ants can still reach it, which increases bait consumption and reduces the amount of waste left in the pack.
Terro outdoor liquid ant bait stakes also contain borax like the other Terro products.
Borax is a slow kill recipe designed to allow workers to take the bait back to the colony to kill the other workers and the queen. That way, it gets rid of the ants you see and the ones you don’t.
Terro states this recipe will attract and dispatch most common household ants such as Argentine ants, ghost ants, cornfield ants, pavement ants, acrobat ants, white-footed ants, little black ants, odorous house ants, and other sweet favoring ants.
- Sturdy stake design
- Tiered design means less waste
- Effective borax recipe
- Only suitable for soft surfaces, cannot standalone on hard surfaces
- Plastic tab difficult to break off
Amdro Liquid Ant Bait Stations, 6 Pack
These Amdro liquid bait stations are a straightforward design. They are a pool of liquid ant bait in a clear container.
You just lay them on a flat surface and pull the plug from the top. The ants then climb in and get the sweet but deadly mixture that they then take and share with the colony. They work much the same as any other bait station.
Amdro also uses a borax mix that they say is effective against most types of ant, including; acrobat, Argentine, big-headed, ghost, cornfield, crazy, little black, odorous house, pavement, white-footed, and many other sweet-eating ants.
These bait stations are for both indoor and outdoor use to tackle the ants already foraging for food in your house. Once they come across the bait station outside, they won’t need to go wandering around the house.
The hard-plastic design with the hole in the top means that these traps are durable and won’t spill on to the floor like some other end-opening stations.
The downside is that sometimes the smaller ants can get in but aren’t able to climb back out again. And the liquid can also evaporate if in direct sunlight.
- Easy to use
- No mess
- Indoor and outdoor use
- Effective borax recipe
- Top entry design can trap ants
- Top hole means liquid can evaporate quickly
Kness 12 Pack Ant Bait Stations, Box of 12
The Kness bait stations are empty for you to fill with the bait of your choice.
You can choose to buy pre-formulated products that come in granular, liquid, or gel format. Or you can choose something more homemade. This design allows you to select eco, pet, and kid-friendly recipes if needed.
They are another stake design for ease of placement into soft areas such as lawns and potted plants. They come with two bait compartments on top with a secure lid and an interior divider for liquid baits to prevent spillage and ease of cleaning.
With the tight-fitting and tamperproof lid, these bait stations are ideal for gardens that have pets and kids running about.
When placed on lawns, they are very inconspicuous, which will keep away prying eyes and curious noses. With the robust plastic design and the well-fitted lid, they are also weatherproof.
The multiple-entry holes make it easier for many ants to come and go quickly. This means more bait can be taken back to the colony in a shorter amount of time.
You can also put both protein and sugar-based baits to appeal to all ants if you aren’t sure what type you have.
- Sturdy design
- Tamper proof
- Easy to use and clean
- Gives a choice on the bait used
- Can become brittle in direct sunlight
- Can only be used on soft surfaces such as dirt and grass
The best ant traps are simple to use and reduce waste and mess.
Unlike gels and powders that are spread on to surfaces, these traps keep the ant killer all in one place and make it easy for the ants to get at it.
Ant traps are the best. Hands down, they are the most effective way to get rid of ants, whether they are indoors, outdoors, or both.
So, whether you are looking for a more effective ant elimination solution or want to be able to create your own kid and pet safe recipes, the ant traps in this guide have something for everyone.
Follow our simple steps on what to consider before you buy, and you should be onto a winner in no time.
If you have experience of these products or a favorite recipe you use for your refillable bait stations, let us know in the comments below. We are always keen to talk about pest control and offer advice where we can.
Remember, bait, wait, eliminate. Happy hunting!