The warm weather is here, and so are the ants. At first, they were just crawling around outside, but now you’ve spotted a few of them inside. Your kitchen is clean, but the little pests are searching for food and water everywhere. You want them gone. Do you need to use a different kind of ant spray inside than you can use outside? Is there a commercial spray that’s safe to use where your kids play? Is there a natural ant spray you can make yourself that’s safe and effective? Keep reading. We have the answers to your questions in this article.
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Top Choices for Indoor and Outdoor
Ants are crawling around inside and outside. Because there are so many, spraying seems to be the most practical way to get rid of most of them quickly. Each kind of spray has different ingredients and works differently, making it difficult to choose.
An inside ant spray should:
- Be safe to use in areas where food is stored or prepared.
- Work fast enough to stop further infestation.
- Work slowly enough that dead ants aren’t littering your house.
- Be safe for humans and animals.
You should also be able to spray it in a stream so that the poison or repellent goes exactly where you want it to go.
An outside spray should:
- Cover large areas efficiently.
- Cause minor, if any, damage to landscaping.
- Be harmless to foundations, wood, or paint.
- Be safe for humans, animals, and birds.
When using a poisonous outside ant spray, you also need to be aware of where the residue ends up if it rains or if you water your landscaping or garden.
Two of the best-selling ant sprays are Terro and Raid. They are effective for other crawling insects as well as ants.
Terro Ant Killer Spray
The primary active ingredient in Terro ant spray is pyrethrin, an insecticide manufactured from certain chrysanthemums. Pyrethrin paralyzes insects. In combination with other ingredients, the pyrethrin in Terro ant spray kills ants immediately upon contact and remains effective for up to six weeks. It can be used inside and outside.
You must avoid inhaling the vapor when using Terro ant spray, so use only in ventilated and unoccupied areas inside. Keep children and pets away until the mist is completely dry. Terro must be kept away from pet and human food. It is toxic to birds, bees, fish, and some water birds, so it can’t be used where it could contaminate water.
Terro Ant Killer Spray is effective on ant trails, nests, and cracks or crevices where the pests are entering your home. It’s readily available in a variety of retail outlets and online.
Raid Ant & Roach Killer
Raid ant spray is made from pyrethrin, an insecticide, in combination with other ingredients. It kills ants immediately and for up to a month after application without an unpleasant odor.
You must be aware of the usual warnings when using any spray containing pyrethrins or other toxic insecticides.
Precautions when using Raid ant spray include:
- Avoid inhaling any of the fumes.
- Laundering clothing immediately after using spray.
- Keeping the spray away from food or areas where food is prepared.
- Restricting the activities of pets or children in sprayed areas.
Raid ant spray will kill bees, birds, fish, and some water birds. Avoid spraying where it will contaminate water or other areas frequented by wildlife.
You can use Raid ant spray on ant nests, ant trails, and entry points into your home, such as cracks. It’s available unscented as well as in several fragrances. You can buy Raid Ant Spray in stores everywhere and online.
Other Popular Brands
There are lots of products available designed to get rid of ants in your yard and home. They’re available in garden shops, hardware stores, home improvement stores, and online.
It’s important to read all labels carefully, especially the warning section on the back label. Some products emblazon the front with “natural, ” “organic, ” or other terms that imply safety. The back labels tend to be more truthful.
Some to consider:
- Alpine Aerosol PT – made with dinotefuran, a broad spectrum insecticide used in agriculture. It kills rather than repels. It is generally regarded as safe for indoor use but must be kept away from food.
- PT Phantom Aerosol II – the active ingredient is chlorfenapyr, a pesticide/insecticide that causes cells to die. It dries into crystals that kill ants when ingested. It does not repel ants and can be used indoors as well as outdoors.
- Safer Brand Ant & Roach Aerosol Killer – a formula including d-Limonene, pyrethrin, and an insecticidal soap that kills ants on contact. It can be used indoors and outdoors.
- Spectricide DEET-free Ant Killer – made with lambda cyhalothrin, which is a synthetic version of pyrethrin. It’s labeled for indoor use only.
- Termidor SC – originally formulated to kill termites, Termidor is effective against carpenter ants. It can eventually kill everything in the nest. It contains fipronil, a strong insecticide, and is for outside use only.
Although these ant sprays are generally available, not every state allows every product to be used within its borders. You may be able to find similar products at your local nursery or garden shop.
Ants are crawling insects, so why do you suddenly see a swarm of them flying?
Those winged pests are known as alates. The swarm is the mating, or nuptial, flight for males and virgin queens. Once mating takes place, the males of most species die. The fertilized queens gather wingless worker females and start a new colony.
It can be difficult for the layperson to distinguish flying ants from termites without close inspection. If you kill one, try to not smash its body, so that you can identify it in order to use the correct spray to kill the others.
Sprays Made With Natural Ingredients
Natural ant killer sprays that people have found effective include:
- EcoRaider – the active ingredients are lemongrass oil and geraniol. Geraniol is an essential oil used in flavorings. It attracts bees. It’s safe to use indoors and outdoors. It kills ants on contact and for up to a month after application.
- EcoSMART Ant & Roach Killer – active ingredients are peppermint oil and rosemary oil. It repels ants if sprayed on their trails, and kills them if sprayed directly on them.
- Hot Shot Natural Ant & Roach Killer – the main ingredient is lemongrass oil, an essential oil beneficial to humans, but harmful to insects. It kills indoor and outdoor ants on contact.
- Orange Guard – a water-soluble formula containing d-Limonene. It is biodegradable and can be used inside and outside to kill ants on contact.
D-Limonene is a citrus oil used in many food products and has a variety of medicinal uses.
How to Make an Ant Killer Spray at Home
Ants live in colonies made up of thousands of individuals. Each ant has a specific role to play, and they act in harmony. You can kill ants one at a time, as you see them, but you’ll never eliminate your ant problem that way. You need to know how to get rid of ant hills to get rid of all your ants.
Although ants have a home base, certain ones must leave the nest to search for food. Those ants secrete a pheromone that scents the trail they follow during their search. Other ants are able to follow that trail to and from the nest and the food source.
You’ll know you’ve spotted an ant trail when you see a long line of ants. Disturbing the trail interferes with food gathering. Like every other living creature, ants need food. Disturb them enough, and they’ll move their nest somewhere else.
Dozens of recipes for homemade ant killer sprays are in use. Most of them are made with items you have on hand for other purposes. The recipes are generally simple, inexpensive, and safe to use. Many of them can be used as an ant repellent, but will also kill ants if applied directly on them.
Common ingredients in homemade ant sprays include:
- Vinegar – You can use white or apple cider vinegar. You can use either full strength, mixed half and half with water, or in combination with other ingredients.
- Dish soap – as with vinegar, you can use it alone, diluted, or mixed with other products including vinegar.
- Essential oils – most have a strong fragrance that ants can’t tolerate. Because essential oils are potent, dilute a few drops in a cup of water. The most effective oils are clove, peppermint, and tea tree. Cinnamon is another good choice. Essential oils can be combined with any of the other ingredients.
- Citrus – ants are repelled by the smell of lemon, orange, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits. Place the peels or spray the juice on ant trails and near their nests.
- Borax and Boric Acid – these powders can be added to any of the above recipes, but you’ll need to heat the water to dissolve them. Both these are toxic to children and pets, so you’ll need to be careful where you use the ant sprays if you add them to your other ingredients.
Ants do provide benefits to humankind, so it’s not always the best idea to try to kill every ant that exists. When you spray the above mixtures on ant trails, the ants will generally find a new place to live.
The Best Ant Spray
There’s a huge variety of ant species. All species also undergo life cycle changes. Choosing an effective ant spray includes knowing what kind of ants are invading your property, and whether they’re settled in, swarming, or searching for a new home.
Then you need to decide if you want to just make your resident ants move on, or if you want to kill them. Carpenter ants and fire ants are two species you almost always want to completely eradicate.
Argentine ants are relatively new in the States and have proven exceptionally difficult to eliminate. They have hundreds of queens and are able to move their nests quickly and frequently. Argentine ants drive out native species, which has made them hated in most communities.
- Killing carpenter ants: these ants are most successfully eradicated with bait stations. If you prefer to use an ant spray, then Termidor SC as described above is your best choice. You also need to remove any damp wood or rotting debris, as that’s their preferred nesting material.
- Killing fire ants: Monterey Garden Insect Spray with Spinosad Concentrate has proven successful for many people, although Terro and the other products described above are effective in some instances. Remove any rotting wood, as that’s where they like to nest.
- Killing Argentine ants: if the infestation is outside only, use a spray containing cypermethrin, which is a fast acting form of pyrethroid. For inside infestations, rely on a bait station rather than spraying. Inside spraying is not effective on Argentine ants, and it will lead them to establish more colonies outside as a defensive measure. Remove all sources of water as that is what attracts them.
Ants come into your yard and house looking for food and water. Making sure there’s nothing edible exposed goes a long way toward getting rid of ants. All water leaks need to be fixed.
But when you do have an ant invasion that’s creating problems, you can use ant sprays to efficiently cover large areas. If you can’t find the ant trails or their nest, you can easily spray wherever you’ve seen them crawling. Sooner or later, the toxic ingredients in your spray will get back to the nest, ending your ant problems.
You can find further details of Ants Control here.