With the right poison, ants are easily one of the most “defeatable” pests you’ll come into contact with.
Combining a slow-acting insecticide with an enticing bait usually results in you a noticeable change within 24 to 48 hours.
The poison spreads around the colony and kills the workers, queen and larvae.
Different ant poisons work in different ways. Some need to be ingested whereas others kill on contact.
This article dives into the different types of best ant poisons you'll find in ant baits and traps as well as a couple of ideas to make your own ant baits.
Top 5 Products With The Best Ant Poisons
Below is a quick overview of the products we've found with the best ant poisons in 2018. We reviewed products based on safety, effectiveness, and residual effect.
Want to skip all this research and just hire a decent exterminator for your ant problem?
Why Use Ant Poison?
One reason, because they work.
The idea is that you lay bait mixed with poison. The bait can be sugar based (usually liquids or gels) or protein/fat based (usually granules). The worker ants bring the bait back to the unsuspecting queen, which poisons the colony.
As good as ant poison can be, sometimes you need to be patient to see results.
Some of the best ant poison takes at least a week or two before you start to see any noticeable changes. It really depends on the size of your colony. I've seen some situations where home owners drop lots of bait around their house and start attracting ants from everywhere in their neighborhood, which leads them to believe the bait isn't working, when in fact, it's working too well.
Remember, ants reproduce fast, so it’s likely you’ll see some stragglers even after you deploy your baits.
Choosing the Best Ant Poison
This depends on your objectives and your personal preference on how you want to eradicate ants around your house.
- If you want to break down your ant's metabolism, then hydramethylnon is your poison of choice.
- Perhaps you’d like to destroy your ant’s central nervous system, then fipronil is the stuff you need to get.
- Maybe you’d prefer a natural insecticide to disrupt digestive system of your ants, then borax is your weapon.
Regardless of the ant poison you end up choosing, all of the above will kill your ants.
If you get anything from this article, remember that if your ant bait's aren't working, it's not because the poison is bad, but your "attractant" didn't attract.
Again, regardless of your preferred ant poison, all of the above will help eliminate the queen ant and her larvae. This is important because the only way that you can destroy the colony is by killing the queen.
A Note About Ant Poisons
The best ant poisons do not kill on contact...
The pesticide commonly found in ant sprays “Pyrethrin” causes ants to lose motor skills and enter a state of paralysis leading to a quick death. We NEED ants to bring the poison back to the colony, so a quick death, although fun in a sadistic kind of way, isn’t great for your ant issue. Sprays are best used as barriers to repel ants.
Be careful with poison mixed in with granules as the granules tend to be larger and harder to carry for some ants. From my experience, liquid baits are a bit easier for ants to transport back to their colonies.
It’s also important to remember that stronger sweeter attractants may appeal to your pets or wildlife (birds, bees, etc). Your ant poison might end up killing beneficial insects and other animals in your yard. Also, just about every type of ant poison is highly toxic to fish, so be careful if you have fish!
If you start to notice that your ant poison is actually doing more harm than good in your yard, then switch up the type of bait you decide to use. Maybe a more self contained bait such as an ant trap is a better option or invest in a bait station.
Types of Ant Poison
Up to this point, I've discussed a number of different ant poisons such as hydramethylnon, fipronil, and borax. To help you out further, I've decided to list out all the best ant poisons currently being used in most ant killers today. When you're shopping for ant products, keep an eye out for these "active" ingredients!
- Zeta-Cypermethrin: This is a man-made insecticide used in popular brands, causing the ant's nervous system to break down.
- Fipronil: This is slow acting synthetic pesticide often used to kill ants and termites, debilitating their nervous system. This is a fast acting low-toxicity ant poison, making it perfect for pet owners or children.
- Abamectin: This is another popular delayed action insecticide usually found in ant baits or granules.
- Borax/Boric Acid: Marketed as a "natural" insecticide, but still mainly affects the ants' nervous system.
- Hydramethylnon: This is a slow acting insecticide affecting the ant's metabolism disrupting their ability to produce energy
- Bifenthrin: Used as a relatively safe synthetic termiticide, and insecticide, Bifen is the active ingredient found in some of the most powerful and effective ant poisons (Talstar & Bifen L/P)
- Indoxacarb: This is an insecticide made by DuPont targeted at roach ant ant infestations used mostly in ant gels. This stuff is quite powerful remaining active even after the bugs have eaten it!
- 2-Phenylethyl Propionate: Used in natural ant insecticides (EcoSmart) and is a derivative of peanut oil
- Acephate: Used mostly on crops and golf courses, when eaten, Acephate actually turns other bugs into insecticide after they're killed. Found in many fire ant killing products.
- Diatomaceous Earth (DE): Although not a "true" poison as it doesn't need to be ingested to be effective. DE is talc-like powder (sometimes "food grade") that is the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton. It works by drying out the exo-skeletons of ants and other bugs, resulting in a quick and orderly death.
Each type of poison works in a different way. Some act on the nervous system whereas others disrupt metabolism. The general rule of thumb is to pick an ant product that includes a slow acting poison. It's important not to kill the worker ant as he transports the bait back to the colony.
Thankfully, most reputable companies know that this is best practice, and they make sure to include one of the above ingredients in their products.
If you want to do a bit more research on each individual ant poison, this article has more information about how poisons work.
What about a homemade ant poison...?
Honestly, there's no such thing as a "true" homemade ant poison. Most homemade ant baits will include borax or some other variant as the pesticide, which I doubt you could make in your kitchen.
Borax is a mineral naturally found in lakes. You mix it with honey, and put it in a small container where the ants can access it. Ants consume this and usually die slowly, which gives them enough time to bring the borax back to the mound.
Borax is available at most supermarkets or hardware stores. But, you need to make sure you use a strong attractant with it or your ants will just ignore it.
Off The Shelf Ant Poisons
TERRO, one of the most popular off the shelf ant traps actually uses Borax as the active ingredient.
Maxforce, Combat, Siege, Amdro products generally contain hydramethylnon or abamectin, which both contain delayed poison effects perfect for a poison and spread strategy against ants.
More commercial level insecticides such as Talstar Pro, and Taurus SC, contain the active ingredient Bifenthrin, which is an excellent ingredient that is great for ants and just about any other bug you might have infesting your home. Treat your home every 2 to 3 months and you should be in good shape.
Do Ant Poisons Work?
Yes, ant poisons work really well.
If you have an ant problem, just about any trap, gel, or granular has the necessary ingredients to kill ants. The trick is finding something that will attract them to TAKE the poison.
You need to find out if they fall into the sugar or grease categories before choosing the attractant. If you’re patient, poison will almost always destroy the colony and solve your ant problem.
Pro Tip: Ant Diets
Put a tablespoon of peanut butter on a dish at ground level and a tablespoon of jelly on a separate dish. See which bait your ants go for. If they go for the peanut butter, your ants are likely to respond to protein/fat based baits (granules). If your ants respond to the jelly, you have ants that respond to sugar based baits (liquid gels/liquid traps).
It’s important to remember that you’re going to see an increase in the number of ants when you lay your traps. The best ant poisons and baits tend to lure hundreds of ants toward it.
This two-hour time-lapse video shows you what to expect in the first few hours after putting poison down.
Some users start to panic and worry that the problem is getting worse. It isn’t. Expect to see more ants around the bait and then a gradual reduction over the next few weeks.
Want to skip all this research and just hire a decent exterminator for your ant problem?
- Talstar Pro (our top poison pick)
- Advance 375A Granules
- TERRO Ant Traps (our #2 pick)
- Maxforce Complete
- Advion Ant Gel
Ant Poison Review Summary
See the below for our reviews of the best ant poisons on the market. Reviews were based on an analysis of the ant poison (active ingredient) within the bait.
We looked at safety, killing effectiveness, and residual staying power during our assessment.
Advance uses abamectin as the ant poison and active ingredient. This is a delayed action insecticide that disrupts the central nervous system.
It uses different types of bait to entice several species of ant. The granules work well on the worker ants and the poison instantly stops reproduction. You should see results in 1-2 weeks after first use. Just sprinkle the contents in a line around the ant trails.
Abamectin is a potent poison that’s mixed with different attractants. It’s easy to use and you can expect the colony to be destroyed within two weeks. But, they’re large and protein-based meaning that they may not be effective against small ants and sugar ants.
- You Only Need Five To Seven Tablespoons To Treat A Mound
- Easy To Apply Using The Shaker Attachment
- Attracts Ants With Varied Diets Preferences
- The Granules Are Large Making Them Difficult To Carry For Smaller Ants
- Unsafe Around Pets (Sometimes Dogs Eat Them By Mistake)
TERRO is the big brand in the ant control space and has been producing quality product for some time.
Personally, we love TERRO at Pest Strategies because their bait formulation is second to none.
When you place a TERRO trap, you will have droves of ants coming to collect the succulent nectar within the package. They use a liquid bait, so it will attract ants in the mood for a sugar meal.
The ant poison TERRO uses is borax, which is a mineral found in lakes. Borax has been found to be an extremely effective pesticide with countless homeowners reporting success stories using this trap.
For a full review of Terro Ant Traps, click here.
- Extremely Effective Attractant For Ants Interested In A Sugar Meal
- Good Customer Service From Brand
- Natural Ant Poison
- Sometimes Works Too Well And You Have A Scary Amount Of Ants In Your House
Maxforce Complete uses granules containing hydramethylnon, a delayed-action insecticide, that works by disrupting metabolism.
A shaker on the top allows you to sprinkle them where you need them.
Best practice is to sprinkle them either around your yard or near the nest. If it rains, make sure to re-apply as the bait can get moldy and unattractive to ants when wet.
Maxforce works well on smaller nests and kills after either contact or ingestion. The size of the granules are a bit large and it may not work well on larger nests.
- Long Residual Effects To Stop The Ants Returning
- Kills On Contact Or Ingestion
- Deters Other Ants And Bugs Nicely
- Large Granules That Are Ineffective On Small Ants
- Doesn't Work On Ants Who Prefer A Sugar Meal
- Only Works Well On Smaller Infestations
Talstar Pro is a spray that contains 7.9% of bifenthrin, which acts on the nervous system of ants. This kills most species of ants and 75 types of other pests. Personally, I've used this stuff to take care of the mosquitoes around my house in addition to any ant colonies.
It's a VERY strong ant poison especially when compared to some of it's competitors who only use less than 1% of bifenthrin as the active ingredient.
For ants, the poison starts to destroy the nest within one to two weeks and residual effects can last up to three months.
Just make sure you let it dry after you apply it to the affected area.
- Very Potent Ant Poison Lasting 60-90 days after application
- Completely Safe For Pets After Dry
- Odorless, Stainless, and Non-Irritant
- Need To Let It Dry After Application
- Only Labeled For Outdoor Use
- You'll Need To Purchase A Sprayer To Apply It To Affected Areas
This uses indoxacarb as a poison, which destroys an ants nervous system.
The gel uses a powerful sweet attractant and works against ants in all stages of their life cycle. The product claims to give results within three to four days.
Advion gel mixed with indoxacarb uses a strong attractant and generally kills within a few days. It may not work well if you have a grease ants infestation. In which case, opt for the Advanced 375A or MaxForce granules.
- Effective At Stopping reproduction
- Powerful Attractant
- Fast Acting
- Sweet Attractants Won’t Work On Ants Who Don't Prefer Sugar
- Not Suitable For Outdoor Use
Our Top Pick: Talstar P
The best ant poison in this review is the bifenthrin in Talstar P. This product contains 7.9% bifenthrin shutting down the nervous system of any ant it comes into contact with. Bifenthrin has been proven time and time again to be a reliable ant killing active ingredient finding it's way into some of the most effective ant killing products on the market.
Given how much bifenthrin is included in this product and it's long residual effect, it was hard not crowning Talstar the victor here.
The product itself is more suited as a barrier that you would use to spray around the perimeter of your house. You could also apply it to cracks and crevices inside your home, but it's mainly labeled for outdoor use only.
The only downside with the Talstar is that it requires a sprayer to apply to your yard, so a little extra cost there.
Equipment aside, Talstar Pro still contains one of the most potent ant poisons on the market and a reliable addition to any ant killing toolkit.
P.S. - We recommend getting a couple free quotes from our exterminator search tool. There are certain restrictions on what you can and can not spray in certain states/localities.
Exterminators should be able to give you free consults to make sure you're doing everything according to the regulations of your state.