The Best Ant Killer For Home and Garden
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 is no fun at all.
Before you reach for the nearest bottle of ant killer powder, check out our guide as there are alternatives which you may want to consider, especially if you have children or pets.
Our 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.
Your 4 Options
The best ant killer products contain some harsh chemicals but they are very effective. We suggest limiting their use to areas where children and cats don’t go. For other areas where there’s an infestation of ants, try one of the natural options.
Bait traps – ideal for areas indoors where the pets and children can’t reach; inside floor-level storage areas, under cabinets, under the stairs etc. Can be used outdoors but as they contain harmful chemicals, they may harm cats, dogs and foxes that may chew them.
Ant killer powder – this powder usually contains Permethrin and comes packaged in a bottle that you turn upside down to puff the powder out onto the ground. Ideal for boundaries and external areas, not so good for indoors 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. Just mix with water and pour around the ant’s nest. These natural parasites will attack ants nests in lawns and flower beds. An organic and safe alternative to harsh chemicals.
Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is a powder derived from crushed sea fossils (Diatoms). 100% organic and with low toxicity, this powder can be used in cracks and crevices to deter ants. Food grade DE has also been used on carpets to stop ants and on mattresses to kill bed begs.
Natural products such as vinegar, coffee granules and various herbs, spices and oils will deter ants or kill them if dusted (see further below for details).
Best Ant Killer Traps
These bait stations by Home Defence are by far the best ant killer products we’ve tested so far.
The team here at DIY Gardening tries 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.
You don’t need to open the box or handle any chemicals, just remove the plastic tabs and place the bait boxes near the ants.
Once inside, the ants are killed off; no mess and no powder residue. If placed strategically, there’s no risk to pets or animals either.
Place these out on the open or to protect pets, place them under crates, bowls or boxes, in voids, under the stairs or cupboards etc.
Each station contains enough insecticide gel to last around six weeks.
Best Ant Killer Powder
Almost all of the best ant killer powders 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.
Simply squeeze the upturned bottle to puff out the ant killer powder. Use directly on ant hills, generally around the garden or in lines to form a barrier.
This product can also be used indoors but should be tested on a hidden area of flooring or carpet first.
If you’re worried about pets and animals consuming this chemical, use bait traps instead.
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.
The team here at DIY Gardening has previously tested nematodes on slugs and ants, 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, you’ll need to keep the sealed packet in a cool place such as a fridge. Just add them to water and introduce to your lawn or soil so they can get to work.
For best results, apply in the evening and keep the ground moist for the next seven days.
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.
Natural Ant Repellents
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 into marble and granite.
However, 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 are very effective at repelling them.
Ants hate the smell of coffee and avoid crossing lines of coffee unless they really have to. Some pet owners sprinkle coffee near (but not in) pet food bowls to stop ants getting at the food.
Sprinkle coffee granules around the home and you’ll find ants will stay away. Place them around an anthill in the garden and the ants will either abandon the anthill or group together to move the coffee out of the way, if this happens, you’ll then need to reapply the coffee.
Many plants give off strong scents to deter insects and you can do the same thing with spices, herbs and essential oils.
Chilli pepper, cayenne pepper, black pepper, garlic cloves, mint and cinnamon are all effective at deterring ants from crevices, cupboards and other similar places.
Peppermint or eucalyptus oil also works at deterring ants – just place a few drops onto tissue or cotton and place into the cupboard or void where the ants are and they’ll soon disappear. Add extra drops as required.
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?
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