The Best Ant Killer For Home and Garden
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Ant colonies have been known to hold up to 40,000 ants, and while the average UK ant hill holds between 3000 and 9000 ants, having this number of insects marching through your home or digging up your garden can be quite worrying!
Before you reach for the nearest bottle of ant killer powder, check out my guide, as there are alternatives which you may want to consider, especially if you have children or pets.
I have personally tested every product listed on this page. The list of natural ant repellents has been proven to work, so you’ll find them suitable for organic gardens or even near furniture and beds etc.
I’ve tested several ant-killer products over the years and I’ve found the best products contain harsh chemicals, but they are very effective. I suggest limiting their use to areas where children and pets don’t go. For other areas where there’s an infestation of ants, try one of the natural options I’ve listed at the end of this guide.
Bait traps – These are ideal for areas indoors where the pets and children can’t reach; I’ve tested them inside floor-level storage areas, under cabinets, under the stairs etc. They can be used outdoors, but as they contain harmful chemicals, they may harm cats, dogs and foxes that may chew them.
Ant killer powder – In the UK, this powder usually contains Permethrin and comes packaged in a bottle that you turn upside down to puff the powder out onto the ground. I’ve found through various tests and uses that it’s ideal for boundaries and external areas, I don’t think it’s good for indoor spaces if you have children and pets.
Nematodes – A living organism that you can buy online, but you must keep in the fridge until used in the garden. I’ve had great results with nematodes in the spring when the ground is moist, but I’ve found they don’t work so well in the summer when the ground is dry. They are an organic and safe alternative to harsh chemicals.
Diatomaceous Earth (DE) – This is a powder derived from crushed sea fossils (Diatoms). 100% organic and with low toxicity, I’ve tested this powder in cracks and crevices to deter ants and it worked but it wasn’t as effective in my home as the harsh chemicals.
Natural products – I’ve found that vinegar, coffee granules and various herbs, spices and oils will deter ants or kill them if dusted (see further below for details).
Ant Killer Traps
These bait stations by Home Defence are by far the best ant killer products I’ve tested so far and I used them while living at my old property which often suffered from ants.
I always try to avoid using chemical powders and granules as other animals could be harmed by them. Cats, dogs, foxes and other animals may consume them, either directly or by licking their paws after coming into contact with the product.
Bait boxes contain the same chemicals which are sealed inside a small plastic box with small entry holes for the ants.
When I tested the traps, I found that I didn’t need to open the box or handle any chemicals, I just removed the plastic tabs and placed the bait boxes near the ants.
Once inside, the ants were killed off; I saw no mess and no powder residue. I found that if I placed them strategically, there was no risk of pets getting to them either.
I suggest placing these out in the open or to protect pets, place them under crates, bowls or boxes, in voids, under the stairs or cupboards etc.
When I tested the stations, I found that they last for about two month, just short of the claimed 12 weeks.
- Sealed stations mean pets can’t lick the chemicals.
- I tested them indoors and on my lawn and they attracted and killed ants.
- During testing, I found that our dog was interested in the station so I had to relocate it.
- It took a couple of days to get rid of a nest as the ants needed to first carry the poison back to the nest.
- In one instance I placed the station far from the nest and the ants died before they had the chance to carry the poison back to the nest which survived.
Best Ant Killer Powder
I did research into ant products and almost all of the best ant killer powders in the UK contain Permethrin, a chemical that’s also used to kill wasps, head lice, woodlice, fleas, cockroaches, mites and other insects.
Nippon ant killer powder contains an industry-leading 0.488% Permethrin, which is more than enough to kill off the ants contained in an entire colony.
One 500g bottle of Nippon ant killer will treat an entire small garden of around 30 square metres.
I found this product easy to use when I tested it, I just squeezed the upturned bottle to puff out the ant killer powder. I’ve used it directly on ant hills and in lines to form a barrier.
I used this at the front of our property where our dog couldn’t get to it, I believe it’s also safe to use in sheds, garages, under floorboards etc.
Would I use it where pets and children can come into contact with the powder?
No, I would use the bait stations for those areas.
- When I tested this powder, I found that it was a very effective barrier and the ants wouldn’t cross it, the ones that did died quickly.
- I used this successfully in crevices, cracks and areas our dog couldn’t get to.
- I don’t like having chemical powders near our pet dog and there’s nothing to stop kids from coming into contact with it.
- I used it outdoors but found it wasn’t water-resistant and washed away when it rained.
- It was the cheapest product I tested.
Nematodes to Repel Ants
Nematodes are small, almost microscopic, roundworms that thrive in the top 15cm of soil throughout most parts of the world.
Certain species of nematodes, that we call beneficial nematodes, can be introduced to gardens to combat unwanted insects and other parasites such as slugs.
Ants will often abandon a colony if they discover nematodes nearby, the threat to their nest is too great so they relocate to a safer area.
I’ve previously used nematodes on slugs, ants and lawn grubs in my own garden and also for clients and the results have been excellent.
If you want to avoid all harmful chemicals and are looking for a 100% organic and natural alternative, try nematodes.
As these worms are a living organism, I had to keep them in their sealed packet in a cool place such as a fridge until I was ready to use them. I added them to water and introduced to my lawn via a watering can.
I’ve had better results with nematodes in the spring than in the winter which is most likely due them drying out and dying in the hot summer weather.
There are dozens of nematode species, some are harmful to plants while some only target pests such as insects.
See a full list of beneficial nematodes here.
My Experience With Nematodes
I previously used nematodes to eradicate white lawn grubs that were chewing my grass roots and destroying the lawn. I’ve also worked with clients to eradicate leatherjackets and other pests.
I know from first-hand experience that they work, but there are a few things I learned:
1) They won’t work on dry soil, they just die.
2) You need to be very careful when you order them so you can use them straightaway in ideal weather conditions.
3) While you can store them in the fridge, they will only last a few days before they start to die off.
4) I watered my garden every day for two weeks after using them, to stop them dying off.
Natural Ant Repellents
I’ve had some success at getting rid of or at least forcing ants to relocate by using natural alternatives.
It’s worth pointing out that even natural products can be harmful to children and pets or may damage certain surfaces. For example, vinegar is very acidic and can eat marble and granite.
However, I’ve found that most natural products are far safer than chemical powders.
Vinegar has an extremely strong odour that disrupts the ant’s natural scent mechanisms.
Ants cannot follow the scent left by other ants and they soon move away to other areas. Apply vinegar to areas with a cloth and repeat the application every few hours. Perfect for indoor use near where children or pets play.
Avoid using vinegar on granite, quartz, marble or any surface that can be easily damaged by acid.
Coffee granules won’t kill ants but I tested them and they are very effective at repelling them.
Ants hate the smell of coffee and I could see them avoiding crossing lines of coffee unless they really had to. I’ve seen some pet owners sprinkle coffee near (but not in) pet food bowls to stop ants from getting at the food.
Many plants give off strong scents to deter insects and you can do the same thing with spices, herbs and essential oils.
I’ve heard that chilli pepper, cayenne pepper, black pepper, garlic cloves, mint and cinnamon are all effective at deterring ants from crevices, cupboards and other similar places. While I haven’t personally tested them, I know that in a garden, ants would never go near these plants.
Peppermint or eucalyptus oil also works at deterring ants and I have tested this in my home – I placed a few drops onto tissue or cotton and placed them into the cupboard or void where the ants are and they soon disappeared.
FAQs About Ants
Do all ants sting or bite?
The Myrmica species of ant (also known as the Red Ant) does sting but for most people, the sting is mild. The more common black ant doesn’t sting or bite.
Do ants damage or kill plants?
Ants don’t damage plants directly and are more of a nuisance than anything else. They may disturb shallow roots in pots and containers but this is rarely an issue.
How long do ants live for?
The lifespan of an ant will depend on the species. Some worker ants found in the UK live for between 1 and 3 years while queen ants may live for over 25 years.
How many ants live in an ants nest?
Large colonies can contain over 40,000 ants but most contain between 3000 – 9000 ants.
Why do ants come into the home?
Meet The Author: Daniel Woodley
Daniel has over 18 years of experience in the construction, home improvement, and landscape garden industries.
He previously worked as a project manager and has experience in managing teams of tradespeople and landscape gardeners on both small and medium sized projects.
Daniel is also a keen gardener and enjoys growing unusual plants and tending to his lawn.
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