While having ants in your garden isn’t too much of an issue at first, they can eventually invade your house – and they don’t tend to travel in groups of just one or two!
The following tips will help you find the best ant killer to combat ant infestations around your property:
The Different Types of Ant Killer
Your first decision is whether to use a spray, bait station, powder or gel. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages.
An ant killer spray will kill ants on contact.
While this is very easy to use and delivers fast results, the downside is that sprays have no effect on the ants that aren’t directly treated. As a result, this approach offers relatively limited pest control. It’s unlikely to kill all ants or get rid of the entire colony.
Ant killer sprays usually contain Borax, a chemical which is considered safe for use around humans as long as the instructions are followed carefully.
Ant Bait Traps
Ant bait offers slow but effective pest control. Bait stations are filled with poisonous ant bait (usually disguised amongst high-sugar substances).
Drawn in by the ant bait, ants visit the trap and eat the poison. Within a few days, the poison will kill ants that ate the ant bait. Ants who came into contact with the poisoned ants will also die. Traps like this are useful for killing an entire colony, not just a few ants. They can even kill the queen.
For the most part, using ant bait in this way is quite safe. The plastic bait traps are small and enclosed. You just need to make sure the kids and pets don’t pick them up or chew them.
Powders and Gels
These work the same was as baited stations, but you’ll have more flexibility in terms of where to place the poison.
This is good news for hard to reach areas.
Gel can be squeezed into small cracks and crevices, so is easy to apply wherever you see ants. The gel sticks to the bodies of the ants, and they then take it back to their colony.
Indoor Vs. Outdoor Ant Killers
Many ant killers can be used both indoors and outdoors. However, this depends on the ingredients they contain.
Stronger ant killers may be more effective, but not safe for inside use. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to see if a product is intended for indoor or outdoor use.
If you have pets and kids, look for a product that states it is safe to be used around them.
You may decide that certain products are more suitable for use indoors or out – for example, bait traps are a lot less messy than spreading powder through the home.
When to Apply Ant Killer
This depends on the type of product, but generally ant killer is best applied outdoors when the grass or patio is dry. You should check for signs of infestation every 30 days to give the product time to work, and reapply when needed.
Bait traps and gels normally state how long they remain effective for. They can be put down at any time and often continue working for three months. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to be sure when to switch to new ones.
Recognising Different UK Ant Species
Though the products on this page will work against any species of ant found in the UK, it may be worth knowing a bit more about the creatures you’re up against.
Common Garden Ants
These black ants are the most common to find in the garden. If you have found indoor ants, they are most likely to be these.
Common garden ants don’t have stingers and don’t bite. They are very fond of sweet substances, so using sugary ant bait is likely to lure them in.
The carpenter ant is much larger other ants like the common garden species. They can be around 0.5 cm long. If threatened, they can bite.
Carpenter ants are most often found in forests, on logs and fallen trees. They tend to build their nests in these pieces of wood, excavating tunnels to live in.
Although not so commonly found in the home, one of the main problems with a carpenter ant invasion is they can be quite hard to get rid of.
Finding the nest, and treating it directly, is the most effective way to cause problems caused by carpenter ants.
Following ant trails can be a good way to find the nest. It may take patience, but watching where the ant trails return to, once they’ve got food, will reveal the nest site.
Fire Ants (Red Ants)
Perhaps the most despised of the ant species in the UK is the fire ant. Red fire ants are distinctive to look at, and known to sting.
Their sting can cause irritation for a few hours, up to a few days.
Fire ants are quite common to find on garden lawns. They nest in small colonies (around 100 – 300 ants) in the soil.
Although the colonies are small, there can be several queens in each colony that are capable of laying eggs so numbers can grow fast.
Using ant bait, as well as directly targeting the nest (identifiable by a soil mound) is the best ant killer method to help control an infestation of fire ants.
Combatting Other Types of Insects
Ant killers are not only capable of tackling ant infestations, they can also be used to keep control of other pests.
Buying a product which is versatile can save you money in the long run, in case you have problems with more than one type of insect.
It’s always recommended to read the manufacturer’s instructions first, to be sure exactly what your product is capable of and how it should be used, but these are some other insects that can be kept at bay by ant killers:
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