There are several methods that can be used to eradicate ant infestations in both indoor and outdoor areas. Ant baiting is considered to be one of the most effective methods for getting rid of the ants in your house and garden.
Ant baits or traps work perfectly if you want to remove established ant colonies permanently. The process may take some time but gives better outcomes than other ant eradication methods.
How does ant bait work? Ants baits are a combination of insecticide and a food source that attracts ants. The ant will be attracted to the bait and will carry it back to their nests. After the entire colony (including the queen) consumes the ant bait, the insecticide will cause the death of their entire colony.
In the following section, we have given a list with our recommendations of the best outdoor and indoor ant baits and a step by step instructions on how to apply these ant baits in order to permanently get rid of the ant infestation from your house and garden. Let’s begin!
Do Ant Baits Work and How Effective Are They?
Ant baiting is the best pest management tool and a permanent solution for any problem with ants. It is the most preferred and recommended pest control method suited for most of the situations. However, the process of ant eradication through baiting is slow acting and the results depend on the size of the infestation.
This method is safer and effective than ant killer sprays and other insecticides. When ants take the bait back to their nests and feed the entire colony including workers, larvae, and queen, the process eliminates the chance of their survival, unlike other insecticides.
Ant Baits | Information
Different forms of ant baits are available commercially that show excellent results and have a low toxicity rate than other ant killers. The effectiveness and end results of ant baits depend on many different factors.
The baits can also help with treating ant invasions at inaccessible areas but you need to select the perfect type of bait for a specific ant species to get guaranteed results. The bait that is attractive to one type of ant species may not attractive to a different type of ant species.
How Does Ant Bait Work | Detailed Explanation
Baits work in a different way than other types of insecticides. To understand the concept of baiting, you should first get a general idea about ants’ behavior and their life pattern. Ant colonies are comprised of different castes, namely worker ants, soldiers, queens, and male reproductives.
Each colony may contain one or more queens depending upon the type of ants. The purpose of the queen is to lay eggs and to establish ant colonies. Male reproductive helps in the mating process and soldier ants protect the ant colony from external threats. The worker ants collect food and support the whole ant colony including larvae.
Adult ants, workers, and reproductive males prefer the liquid form of food whereas larvae can process both solid and liquid form. Every ant species have a different food preference, for example, some ant species like sugar-based foods whereas others prefer greasy or protein-based food. Some ant species can eat both sugary and greasy food. Therefore, ant baits are prepared commercially by having their food preferences in mind.
The baits are a mix of a specific type of food and insecticide. When sugary/carbohydrate or greasy/protein baits are placed near foraging worker ants, they get attracted to the baits and carry them to their nests. Try using both solid and liquid baits at the same time to target the whole colony.
The baits have low toxicity, that’s why it takes some time for them to work and they do not kill ants upon contact. The baits work when ants ingest them. The common insecticides used in ant baits are borax, fipronil, indoxacarb, avermectin, and hydramethylnon. Borax interferes with the digestive system of ants and causes stomach poisoning. Avermectin, fipronil, and indoxacarb infect the nervous system of ants and cause paralysis which ultimately leads to their death.
Although, hydramethylnon causes reaction inside ants’ cells and diminishes their ability to produce energy. Most of these insecticides do not cause much harm to humans or pets.
How Long Does It Take for Ant Bait to Work?
Ant baiting is a slow-acting process, it does not kill the ants on direct contact. The ant colonies consume the bait and die within 1 or 2 days. However, the permanent extermination of ants depends upon the size of the ant colony and degree of infestation. Highly infested areas can take a couple of days or up to weeks for complete eradication.
Is Ant Bait Toxic to Dogs, Cats and Other Pets?
Ant baits usually contain active ingredients that have low toxicity and are safer than the other ant killers. The unintentional exposure of ant baits to children, dogs, cats, and other pets can cause nausea, vomiting, skin, or eye irritation in extreme situations.
Avoid direct contact with ant baits and wash the affected area for instant treatment. To ensure safety, place the baits on the areas which are not accessible to children and pets.
What Happens If a Dog Eats Ant Bait?
Most of the ant baits are not life-threatening to dogs and other pets. However, in severe cases, the ingestion of ant baits or foreign material can block their stomach or intestines and even cause diarrhea. In this situation, we suggest visiting a vet to resolve the problem.
Types of Ant Baits | Traps, Gels, Granules, Stations
Several forms of sugar-based or grease-based baits are recommended for ant control in both the indoor and outdoor infested areas.
Different forms of baits such as granular, gel, or liquids baits are sold commercially. Picking the right type of bait according to the ant’s feeding habits helps to produce effective results. In the following section, we have given a comprehensive guide about types of ant baits and their use in pest control.
Ant traps are containers that hold the ant baits. They lure worker ants to take the bait and carry it back to their nests to feed the ant colony. The bait is a mixture of sugar or protein and a poisonous chemical. To install the ant traps or baits, observe the ant trails and infested areas.
After finding ant trails, put the traps near ant trails, entry points, or wherever you discover ants. The ant trap will kill the ant in a couple of days or within a few weeks depending upon the size of the ant colony.
Liquid Baits and Bait Stations
Refillable or packaged containers that contain the ant bait are called bait stations. The pre-filled or packaged bait stations come in ready to use trays. You can immediately put them near infested places after opening their lid. These baits stations may contain liquid or solid baits.
The refillable or reusable bait stations can be refilled and reused according to your desire. You can also put different types of liquid or solid baits in these bait stations at the same time. Bait stations are good for both indoor and outdoor infestation.
The bait station helps to keep the bait fresh, does not let it dry out, and limits the photodegradation of baits. Additionally, bait stations do not allow direct contact of baits with children or pets. Put the bait stations near the access points, ant trails, or install them into the ground.
Gel baits are the gel-based formulations that come in small tubes or pre-filled syringes. The most commonly used active ingredients in gel baits are borax products (sugar bait) and fipronil (protein bait).
These can be applied at the walls near cracks, holes, or at the other inaccessible areas where other insecticides cannot be applied. To apply gel bait near ant trails or cracks, you can use disposable containers, paper, or tape.
Solid | Granular baits
Granular baits are solid particles impregnated with insecticide, they work best for outdoor pest control. The active ingredients used in most of the solid baits are avermectin B (protein bait), fipronil (protein bait), and hydramethylnon (protein bait). The granular insecticides containing active ingredient permethrin or cyfluthrin are commonly mistaken as ants baits, in fact, they are a contact insecticide.
Spread granular or solid ant baits near the nesting sites, cracks, or holes, alongside the foundation of the house and wherever you observe active colonies of ants.
Differences Between Different Types of Ant Baits
Different types of solid, gel and liquid ant baits are available commercially. Every bait is specified for a particular group of ant species according to their feeding cycle and dietary needs. Some ant baits contain sugar-based or carbohydrate-based types of food that attract a specific group of ant species.
For example, sugar baits attract a group of ants called sugar ants, while protein-based baits attract a group called grease ants. Some baits can work on a variety of ant species (broad-spectrum baits). Liquid baits are mostly sugar baits whereas solid baits are usually protein-based baits.
Review: Top 3 Best Indoor Ant Baits
- 12 bait stations included
- Kills all common household ants
- Pre-filled, ready-to-use bait stations
- Patented design prevents bait from drying out
- Attracts ants fast
TERRO T300 Liquid Ant Bait is one of the best recommended indoor ant baits. This ant bait includes 12 baits station. The bait stations come in ready to use, pre-filled packing. Its patented design prevents the liquid bait from drying out. The active ingredient used inside bait is borax. Place the bait stations near ant trails and where you see ant activity.
- Target pests: For indoor and outdoor control of...
- Highly attractive formula promotes ready transfer of the active...
- Powerful, active ingredient knocks out workers, brood and queens
- Approved for use indoors and outdoors, applied in cracks and...
- How does Optigard Ant Bait Gel work? Ants that feed on the gel...
This is a highly rated indoor ant killer bait. It is capable of killing entire ant colonies. Put the bait on a piece of the cupboard, paper, or any other substitute and place it near the active zones of ants and you will get amazing results.
- Ant baits that kill the queen & the colony within 24 hours: If...
- The only ant bait traps that use food attractants: Unlike most...
- Home ant extermination system you can trust: For many years, Home...
- Effective indoor & outdoor ant killer trap: When dealing with ant...
- Kills 60% more ant species than other ant pest control brands:...
Home Plus Ant Killer is one of the best ways to eradicate ant colonies in indoor infested areas. This ant bait kills the entire ant colony including the queen. These bait stations can last you a long time. They do not only kill ants but also prevent their re-infestation.
Review: Top 3 Best Outdoor Ant Baits
- 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...
TERRO 18060 Outdoor Liquid Ant Bait kills the entire colonies of ants. It comes in re-filled, ready to use bait station. Install the bait station in the ground using stakes, or in the basement or garage. The active ingredient in the bait is borax. The patented design of the bait station does not let it dry.
- Includes 48 ready to use bait stations
- Kills the ants you see and the ones you don’t
- Targets ants outdoors before they can come indoors
- Ready to use – insert stakes, break tab, kill the colony
- See-through bait monitor lets you know when it’s time to...
TERRO T1812 Outdoor Liquid Bait includes ready to use 6 packs of bait stations. It kills ants outside before they enter your house. Install the bait stations in the ground or in the garage to get rid of ants. A see-through bait monitor helps to inspect the bait and to let you know when it’s time to replace the bait.
- Product 1: Ant killer
- Product 1: Baits and kills ants outside before they come inside
- Product 1: Kills the queen and the entire colony
- Product 1: Kills fire ants, carpenter ants and 23 other ant...
- Product 2: Kills common household ants including acrobat,...
Amdro Ant Block Granule baits and kill the entire ant colony before they enter your house. The ant bait kills carpenter ants, fire ants, and 23 other species of ants. Spread the ant bait around the foundation of your house to prevent their entry. The bait can last for up to 3 months and covers up to 1,080 linear feet.
How to Use Ant Bait Stations: Instructions and Tips (Indoor and Outdoor)
Before using baits you need to identity the ant species, and investigate the infested site. The accurate identification of ant species is necessary to select the right type of ant bait. Inspect the level of infestation, the behavior of ants, and their food habbits.
The ant baits are most effective at a specific time period and may not attract the ant throughout the whole year. For instance, Argentine ants are attracted to sweet baits during the whole year but prefer protein baits during the spring season. You can also put small quantities of different ant baits near their active site to test their food preference.
Further, we have given a step by step guide on how to use ant baits for both indoor and outdoor pest control.
Step 1: Investigation of active sites
Investigate the active site and identify the type of ant in order to select a suitable bait and to determine the number of required bait stations. Follow the ant trails and observe their active site and access points for several days. Inspect the feeding cycle and notice the timings when ants are most active throughout the day and night.
Step 2: Place the Bait Station
Bait stations may contain liquid, gel, or solid baits. Select the best bait for the specific ant species. For indoor pest control, place the bait stations near the ant trails, along with nesting sites of ants, near cupboards, at counters, or where it is needed. Wait for a couple of days and expect amazing results. Change the bait if ants are not attracted to the particular bait.
In outdoor infested areas, put the bait station near ant mounds, beneath plants, near ant trails, or where ants are active the most. You can also install them permanently near the pavement or underground. Keep the bait station at about 10 to 20 feet away along the foundation or near access points.
Refresh and change the baits after every few weeks until you completely eradicate the ants. For larger infestations, place the baits stations at multiple sites. You will see results in 3 to 4 days. You can also use different types (solid, liquid) of sugar and grease baits simultaneously.
Most of the baits or bait stations are for both indoor and outdoor use but some are strictly labeled for outdoor pest control.
Step 3: Prevent Reinfestation
Observe the treated area for several days after the treatment. Re-fill the baits in the bait stations if needed. Remove all the factors that can attract ants into your house or garden. Try using ant repellents or insect repellent plants to avoid re-establishment or invasion of ants.
Ant baits are formulated using different types of food (or baits) and insecticides. The baits or attractants can be sugar-based food products or greasy based items. When the bait works, it causes the death of the entire ant colony.
Ant baits (solid or liquid) are also available in pre-filled or reusable bait stations. The bait station keeps the bait fresh for a longer time period and protects the bait from children and pets. Bait stations work perfectly for indoor and outdoor ant control whereas granular baits are best for lawns and garden.
In case you are having a serious ant infestation, it would be best to call a professional pest control service. Click on the following link if you are interested, and you will get free quotes from the best ant exterminators in your area. Best of luck!
List of Sources
Rust, M. K. and Choe, D. H. (2012). Ants: Integrated Pest Management in and around the home. Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program, Agricultural and Natural Resources, University of California.
Steve H. D. (2016). Ant Management in Gardens and Landscapes. Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program, Agricultural and Natural Resources, University of California.
Alder, P. and Waldvogel, M. (2018). Tips for Effective Ant Baiting. NC State Extension Publication, NC State University and NC A&T State University.
Ogg, B. Ant Baits: A Least Toxic Control. University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension In Lancaster County.