Ants are not categorized as dangerous pests but larger infestations of them can cause havoc in your lawn or garden. Several species of field ants are infamous for the rapid establishment of their colonies and can cause major damage in fields or gardens. To avoid structural and economic damage, there is a need to take necessary measures beforehand.
For getting rid of the ants in your lawn you can use different natural or chemical methods. What method you are going to use depends on the area and the level of infestation.
How to get rid of ants in the lawn? For getting rid of the smaller ant infestation in the lawn, you can use natural methods such as repellents, diatomaceous earth, and borax. For larger infestation, treat the lawn with liquid insecticides or ant baits. Ant baits are used to eradicate entire ant colonies and are very effective.
To control and prevent the ant colonization of your lawn, maintain the health of your lawn, and keep the trash away. If you see any ant mounds or anthills, quickly get rid of them before they cause a serious problem. Take strict measures to avoid the expected structural damage of your lawn.
Ants are mostly attracted to your lawn because of food like honeydew, meat, aphids, bugs or they are in search of a water source and in some cases the shelter. It’s easy to control them at the earlier stages of infestation. The established colonies of ants have the capability to proliferate at a horrendous speed.
In the following sections, we will explain everything about the ant infestations in lawns, how they damage your lawn, their prevention, and control methods. Moreover, we will share some easy home remedies that can help you treat the ants in your garden or lawn. Let’s begin!
Ants in Lawn: Everything You Need to Know
Ants are social insects, they live in larger colonies and form mounds or ant hills as their shelter. A single ant colony consists of a queen ant (one or more), female workers, soldiers, and reproductive males (drones).
The queen ants are the fertile females who lay eggs to establish the entire ant colony, female workers support and maintain the growth of ants, whereas soldiers and drones help to protect the colony and are responsible for bringing the food to the nest. Ants prefer to build their nests in well-drained soil near a water-stressed condition.
Do Ants Kill Lawns?
Small colonizations of ants are not considered as a threat for your lawn because they help in soil aeration and better plant growth. However, some species of ants have the potential to cause massive damage to your garden. For instance, field ants build underground mounds to establish their colonies. The ants clear the pathway and damage the root system of the plants or grasses in the vicinity to build new colonies.
Similarly, army ants swarm the fields or yards in large groups (up to thousands in numbers) and have the potential to kill vegetation and grass in your lawn. Another group of ants named farming ants secrete hormones in order to lure aphids in your lawn or garden to use them as a food source.
When aphids are attracted to ant pheromones and come to your lawn, they begin to feed on the plants and destroy the vegetation. Therefore, ants can indirectly cause plant losses in your lawn by attracting other insects.
Are Some Ants Good for Your Lawn and Garden?
Most of the ants are not a potential threat to your lawn. Anthills or mounds can be a cause of nuisance but in return, some ants help in soil aeration, pollination, seed dispersal, and protect your lawn from aphids. Ants eat up aphids, bugs, and other pests that can harm your lawn or garden. Ants facilitate the redistribution of nutrients in the soil, act as scavengers and decompose dead material and insects into fertilizer which helps in plant growth.
They patrol all over your lawn and protect your vegetation from plant-eating insects. They also help in flowering (in peony plant) by eating the sticky outer layer around the buds which is a great food source for ants. However, keep an eye on the ant colonies in your lawn because established larger ant colonies can do more harm than help.
Common Types of Ant in the Lawn
Some of the common groups of ant species that attack your lawn are mound or field ants, farming ants, and army ants (dark brown).
Also, other outdoor ant species that you will find in your lawn are carpenter ants (large black ants), funnel ants, fire ants, ghost ants, pavement ants, Pharaoh ants, and cornfield ants (brown ants).
Will Insecticides That Kill Ants Damage Your Lawn?
Whether the insecticide treatment (chemicals) is going to damage your lawn or not depends on the type of insecticide. Several control solutions can harm your grass if they are not applied according to the given instructional manual.
You can also seek professional help from an ant exterminator to avoid potential destruction of your lawn. It is necessary to read complete instructions before the application of insecticide for positive results. Prepare the insecticide solution according to given guidelines and treat the infested area to control ant colonies. Some of the insecticides come with ready to use spray bottles.
The treatment with insecticides is good for highly infested areas. They kill the ants right after treatment and they are much cheaper than other ant killers. Still if not handled by professionals, there have been cases where people have destroyed their lawns with improper handling of the insecticides.
Ant Treatment for Lawns – Instructions
Small colonies of ants may not be detrimental for the health of your lawn or garden but they are an indication of the potential threat in the near future due to their rapid growth of colonies and exquisite mound-building capability all over the fields or lawns. Most of the ant species may not use grass or other plants as a food source but the established colonies of ants can significantly damage the root system of plants (in your lawn) and can cause serious issues if not controlled earlier.
Each ant colony may contain one or more queens and the survival of a queen depicts the survival of a whole colony. Therefore, multiple well-managed treatments of insecticide are required to completely wipe out the ant infestation from your lawn. Now let’s see how you can save your lawn!
Chemicals | Liquid Insecticides
Several liquid insecticides, sprays or solutions are available commercially for getting rid of ant infestations. Each insecticide solution comes with a specific set of instructions or guidelines. They are a relatively cheaper solution and show instant results after the treatment. You can use liquid insecticides sprays or solutions to deal with a larger infested area of your lawn. This is how you should approach this method:
- Make sure to use personal protective equipment (such as long sleeve rubber gloves, long shoes, mask, and protective eyewear), and before the application of insecticide try to avoid any mishaps.
- To apply liquid insecticide in the infested area, prepare the liquid solution by following the instructional manual given on the insecticide bottle. You can find lawn grass compatible sprays commercially to avoid any damage due to the insecticide.
- Locate the mounds (ant hills) in your lawn and drench them with a sufficient amount of liquid ant killer solution. You may require 1 to 2 gallons of insecticide solution for each mound to completely drench it. The method shows effective control in a few hours. To completely control ant infestation you can repeat the process after 10 days.
Ant baits are also used to get rid of ant colonies. This method is a relatively slow process and works differently than liquid insecticides. The selection of the proper ant bait is necessary to control the specific species of ants in your lawn. The baits can work for one ant species and maybe not work for a different ant species.
Several ant baits are available commercially, for example, sugar-based ant baits, fat-based or greasy ant baits, and protein-based ant baits. Some of the recommended baits are Syngenta Advion Fire Ant Baits and Terro Outdoor Liquid Ant Baits.
With the ant bait method, worker ants take the poisonous ant baits to their nests and ingest them, including the queen, which causes the death of the colony. This is a slow-acting process may take 2 weeks to 3 months depending upon the size of ant colonies.
To lure ants out of their mound, apply baits on the ant trails, at the entry points, and near mounds. Evenly sprinkle the baits 1 to 3 ft. around the nest (in the dry area) without disturbing the ant mound. You will see the results within two weeks. Ants are most active in late afternoon or evening during the summer season. This process is safe, does not damage your grass or other vegetation in the lawn.
For effective pest control strategy, use integrated pest management technique by applying liquid insecticide after the ant bait has killed the queen.
• Ant Killer Granules
Ant killer granules are also applied for getting rid of the ant infestation from lawn or garden. They are also a type of ant bait. Several ant killer granules are available commercially. To treat your lawn, apply insecticide granules around mounds evenly without disturbing the ant mounds. In some cases, you will have to activate it with the water but this depends on the type of granules.
Follow the instruction manual for the most effective results. Ant killer granules are a safe and non-destructive method to control ant infestation in your lawn. The best-recommended ant killer granules are Bayer Advanced Complete Ant Killer and BioAdvance Complete Insect Killer.
• Ant Killer Gel
Another “form” of the ant bait is the ant killer gel such as the Combat Max Ant Killing Gel. The gel works like any ant bait, it lures ants by placing sugar-based gel droplets near ant trails and mounds and gets rid of the ant colonies. Like other ant baits, this is also a harmless method and poses no threat to your lawn or other plants.
Ant Killer Dust
Ant killer dust can also be used to get rid of the ants from your lawn or garden. Apply insecticide powder or dust (recommended quantity) around the mounds. The dust is detrimental for ants when they move in or out of the mound, the dust will kill the whole colony within a few days.
Some of the recommended ant killer types of dust are BioAdvance Fire Ants Killer Dust and 2-Pack TERRO Ant Killer Dust. Make sure to avoid direct contact with the poisonous dust and wear personal protective equipment.
The biological control method is the safest method to get rid of the ant infestation in your lawn. Professionals, water the parasitic nematodes near ant mounds (Steinernema spp.) to control the ant colonies in lawns or garden.
These are microscopic nematodes that enter the insect bodies and paralyze them. Parasitic fungi (Beauveria bassiana) can also control the ant infestation to a limited extent. This is done by professionals but we included it as it is quite interesting.
Best Ant Killer for Lawns | Lawn Ant Control
- INSECT KILLER: Kills listed surface insects including grubs,...
- 3 MONTH PROTECTION: Kills listed soil insects for up to 3 months
- USE ON: Soil and turf lawns and around the home
- PLUS MOSQUITO KILLER: Kills mosquitos in addition to 30 other...
- COVERAGE AREA: Treats up to 5,334 square feet
The two-way formulation of BioAdvances Insect Killer works best for surface and below soil insects in lawns or gardens. The ready to use insecticide spray can get rid of ants in 24 hours and protect your lawn for up to 3 months. Other than ants, this spray can eradicate spiders, crickets, tick, fleas, mosquitoes, etc.
- OUTDOOR USE: Protects lawns, vegetables, fruit and nut trees,...
- KILLS 260+ INSECTS BY CONTACT: Kills above and below ground –...
- NON-STAINING: Non-staining to most home siding depending on age...
- CONCENTRATE FORMULA: Available as a dilutable concentrate for...
Spectracide Tiazicide Insect Killer can protect your lawn from both above and below-ground insects such as ants, fleas, ticks, grubs, Japanese beetle, etc. The ready to use pest control formulation of this insecticide shows instant results and protects fruits, vegetables, flowers, and lawn. The ready to use QuickFlip spray can be directly attached to the garden hose to treat the infested area.
- Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer for Lawn & Landscape...
- KILL OUTDOOR INSECTS: Starts working within minutes to kill...
- LONG-LASTING CONTROL: This insect spray keeps on killing ants,...
- KEEP BUGS OUT: Create a barrier that keeps insects from coming...
- EASY TO APPLY: One bottle treats up to 5,300 sq. ft., and there's...
Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer is one of the best-recommended ant killers. This insecticide spray can kill up to 235 different pests such as ants, fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, spiders, etc. This is a fast-acting insecticide spray, shows long-lasting effects up to 3 months. This spray requires no mixing, you can attach it to the garden hose and treat the area up to 5,300 sq. ft.
- Kills ants plus more than 30 other listed outdoor pests including...
- Effective home perimeter treatment
- Easy-to-use shaker top applicator
- 1.5 lb. Treats up to 1, 500 Square feet
- 2-way action formula treats below-soil insects up to 3 months
Bayer Advanced Complete Ant Killer is one of the best ant killers for lawns. It can also kill underground ants and 30 other pests in just 24 hours and protects the lawn for up to 3 months. This insecticide comes with easy to use applicator, you can use it to sprinkle granules around mounds and it can treat the infested area (up to 1,500 sq. ft). Water is applied over granules to activate the insecticide.
- INSECT KILLER: Army worm killer. Also kills over 30 outdoor pests...
- 3 MONTH PROTECTION: Kills listed soil insects for up to 3 months
- USE ON: Soil, turf lawns and around the home
- KILLS MOSQUITO: Kills mosquitos in addition to 30 other outdoor...
- COVERAGE AREA: Treats up to 10,000 square feet
BioAdvance Complete Insect Killer Granules is considered to be one of the best ant killers for lawn and garden. The two-way formulation of the advanced formula can get rid of both underground and surface insects. It shows results in just 24 hours and offers effective protection for up to 3 months.
- Ortho Fire Ant Killer Broadcast Granules target and kill fly-in...
- FAST ACTING: This outdoor fire ant killer will kill fire ant...
- PROTECT THE GROUND: Treat the entire lawn area to protect your...
- EASY TO APPLY: Use a drop or broadcast spreader to apply, and...
- USE AS PART OF ORTHO 2-STEP SYSTEM: First, destroy existing...
The advanced formula of Ortho Fire Ant Killer Broadcast Granules provides up to 6 months of protection from fire ants. The fast-acting fire ant killer granules can get rid of the ant colony within 15 minutes. You can treat the infested area of up to 5,000 sq. ft. with the 11.5 lbs. of ant killer pack. It is recommended to apply it during spring and in late summer for the year-long protection against pests. Follow the guidelines for the optimized control of ants.
- Advion fire ant bait effective and fast acting. Combined with an...
- Broadcast or mound treatment
- Recreation areas as well as institutional or private service...
- Other noncrop/nongrazed areas
- Effective on all life stages
Syngenta Advion Fire Ant Bait is a fast-acting formula and it shows results within 24 to 72 hours. This bait is effective for all life stages of fire ants. Apply the bait around the ant mound, at the trails and around your yard to completely get rid on the ant colonies. Make sure to apply the bait in dry areas.
- Kills the queen and destroys the mound
- No watering-in required
- Treats up to 162 mounds (twin pack 324 mounds total)
- Use Ortho Orthene Fire Ant Killer as part of Ortho 2-Step Fire...
- Guaranteed to kill or your money back
The Ortho Orthene Fire Ant Killer has the potential to kill the ant queen and destroy the entire colony without the use of water. You can easily apply it in your lawn and around ornamental plants to completely eradicate the fire ants colonies. For effective results, apply the ant killer without disturbing mounds when ants are active.
- Kills the ants you see and the ants you don’t
- Pre filled bait stations are ready to use
- Contains borax
- Flexible placement: in the ground using the stakes or on decks,...
- Patented station protects the bait from the elements, prevents it...
The Terro Outdoor Liquid Ant Bait is effective for the multiple species of ants. The large cups of the sugar-based baits can be used inside or outside to lure the ants. The bait causes the death of the entire colony including the queen. The pack includes 6 pre-filled baits stations that are ready to use.
- Kills ants on contact
- Provides long-lasting residual control up to eight months
- Waterproof, will not wash away in rain
- Ideal for crack and crevice treatments; Easy to use shaker can
- Can be used indoors or outdoors
The TERRO Ant Killer Dust can kill the ants instantly. Moreover, it provides long-lasting pests protection for up to 8 months. It comes with an advanced waterproof formula that will not wash out in the rain. The ant killer dust can be used for both indoor and outdoor (lawn and garden) pest control.
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The BioAdvance Fire Ant Killer Dust is one of the best ways to get rid of the ants in your lawn. It has great potential to eradicate the entire ant colony right after contact. You can sprinkle it by using the applicator on top of the mounds or ant trails. The 16-ounce pack of ant killer can treat up to 130 mounds. No water is required to activate the insecticide powder.
- Gel bait kills ants and the entire colony
- Easy to use so you can apply it in cracks, crevices and other...
- Ready-to-use directly from the syringe for fast, easy application
- Helps you get rid of ants in just three to five days
- Form-fitting substance, best used in cracks & crevices where ants...
Combat Max Ant Killer Gel is a strongly recommended ant killer for lawns and gardens. The easy to use gel can be injected near a hole and entry points of ants using the syringe. The gel can be used as bait to eradicate the entire ant colonies in 3 to 5 days. Its powerful formula has the potential to exterminate the ant colony within just hours.
Ant Hills in the Lawn: How to Get Rid of Ant Hills in the Lawn?
Ant hills or ant mounds in your lawn are the indications of an established ant colony. They are comprised of decomposed material, clay, sand, and tiny rock particles. It looks like a simple dome-like aggregate of soil and decomposed material. However, it can go up to several feet deeper (up to 3 ft.) and wider (up to 4 ft.) under the soil surface and form a complex labyrinth that provides a safe shelter to ants.
Underneath the soil, there are well-crafted chambers and tunnels for workers and queen. The mound also used as an insulator against extreme temperatures and harsh weather conditions. The colony of ants can grow up to thousands and millions if not disturbed. Simply, leveling the ant hill will not help to get rid get of the problem. There is a simple way that can kill most of the ants inside of the ant hill, try doing the following:
- The first step is to locate the anthills. You can place ant baits in order to track the ants back to the anthills. After locating ant hills, the easiest way to get rid of them is the application of boiling water directly over the mounds at the entry points of ants.
- Pour hot water to completely drench the ant mound. You can add liquid soap in the steaming hot water to increase its effectiveness.
If you want to know more about ant hills and the ways to get rid of them, click on the following link: “How to Get Rid of Ant Hills: A Complete Guide”.
Tiny Ant Hills All Over Lawn: What Can You Do to Prevent This?
Ants are attracted to your lawn or garden because they are searching for the food source, water, or shelter. If your lawn is well-drained or has good food sources (such as aphids, honeydew supply, bugs, or other dead material) there is a great possibility of getting ant infestations or re-establishment of previous colonies.
Some ant species are attracted to organic mulches (used for shelters) or organic fertilizers that can be a potential food source for ants. Ants are also drawn to specific plants and they help in their flowering and seed dispersal. Small colonies of ants are not a threat to your lawn and their tiny ant hills are somewhat easy to get rid of and prevent from appearing.
- You can plant ant repellent plants or treat your lawn with insecticides around the borders to eliminate the chances of larger ant infestations.
- To avoid the re-establishment of ant colonies in your lawn displace the compost piles and trash bins far from your lawn and monitor if there are ant hills in your lawn. Rake the tiny anthills to disrupt the re-colonization of ants and treat them with insecticide spray or hot water.
How to Kill Ants in the Lawn Without Killing Grass? | Ant Killer Home Remedies for Lawn
For a safer and cheaper solution, you can use natural methods or home remedies to get rid of ants from your lawn or garden. The DIY home remedies can help to eradicate the ant colonies without damaging your lawn. In the following section, we have given some effective and easy to do home remedies for getting rid of the ants in your lawn.
• Soapy Water
Soapy water is one of the best home remedies to get rid of the ant infestation from your lawn. To prepare a soapy water spray, mix 1.5 tablespoons of oil, half teaspoon of liquid soap in one quart of water.
Pour the solution in a bottle and spray the solution at the entry points of mounds. Do not spray directly on the grass in order to avoid plant loss. The soap water enters the exoskeleton of the ants and suffocates them to death.
• Vinegar Solution
To prepare vinegar solution mix equal parts of white vinegar and water. Directly pouring the white vinegar over the mound can help to get rid of the ant colony. It does not damage the plants in your lawn and instantly kills the ants due to its acidic nature.
• DIY Ant Baits
You can prepare honey, sugar, or peanut butter baits by mixing boric acid in it until it becomes a paste. Change the bait according to the infested ant species. It may be a slow-acting process but it won’t cause any harm to your grass or other plants.
• Chilli Powder
Chilli or cayenne pepper is used as an insect repellent to keep the ants out of your lawn. You can also prepare the cayenne pepper spray to get rid of ant colonies. To prepare an ant killer spray, mix 3 tablespoons of cayenne pepper sauce with half a teaspoon of liquid soap and 1 quart of water. Pour the solution on the entry points of anthills and you will destroy the colonies.
• Insect Repellent Plants
A number of plant species are used as an insect repellent and play a vital role in keeping the ants away from your lawn. Some of them are sage, catnip, lavender, peppermint, tansy, rosemary, thyme, marigold, garlic, cinnamon, chili, cloves, and other aromatic herbs.
• Diatomaceous Earth
Application of diatomaceous earth is a non-toxic, eco-friendly, and harmless way to get rid of ant colonies in your lawn. You can apply the diatomaceous earth around the mounds and on the ant trails. This will suffocate the ants and eventually cause their death.
Ants are not considered to be a potential threat for your lawn or garden until they have established ant colonies. The larger infestation of field ants, army ants, farming ants or fire ants can cause massive structural and economical damage to your lawn. Ants live in anthills or mounds which appear like a pile of clay, sand and dead particle but contain extensive tunnels underneath the soil up to 3 feet deep and 4 feet wide.
The queen lays eggs and establishes the whole colony. To get rid of the entire ant colony, you need to kill the queen. The most commonly used methods are liquid insecticides, ant killer granules, ant killer gel, ant killer dust, and biological methods.
Ant sprays or liquid insecticides are recommended for eradicating ant colonies instantly whereas ant bait is the slow-acting process, that shows the result after a few weeks. Several natural methods or home remedies can also be used to effectively get rid of ant colonies from your lawn or garden. After the eradication of ants, try to maintain the health of your lawn and monitor it regularly to avoid their re-establishment.
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List of Sources
Vittum P., Ants in Lawns, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Lewis D., Ants in Lawns, Iowa State University
Ants in Home Lawns, The Pennsylvania State University
Hahn J., Ants in Turf, University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Product Toxicity Ratings, AustinTexas.gov