How to Get Rid of Ant Hills: A Complete Guide

By now you probably have done your fair share of research and discovered that no matter how much you prevent ants from entering your home, the ultimate solution is to get rid of that anthill in your yard or garden. There are various ways of doing that, all of which will accommodate any type of yard owner.

So, how to get rid of ant hills? There are many effective methods for getting rid of the ant hills. The most simple method is pouring the boiling water over the ant hill, this will kill lots of the ants almost instantly but not their queen. A less invasive method is to apply boric acid over the entry points of the ant hills, it is toxic and it will slowly kill the ants that came in contact with it. The most effective long term method is to place ant baits (granules) around your yard, specifically along pheromone trails where the ants are bound to find them. After they carry the toxic bait back to the nest, the queen will consume it and the whole colony will die. Also, using aluminum casting is an interesting way of getting rid of the ant hills, but we will talk about this method later in the article.

Depending on the size of the ant hill we are going to recommend different solutions and products. Still, no matter how big of a problem you have with ants we are here to help you. Before we start with the step by step process on how to get rid of the ant hill we are first going to talk about them.

There is so much more to learn about these amazing creatures and their hill. The more you understand what are ant hills and why ants build them the easier it will be for you to get rid of them. Now, let’s start!

What are Ant Hills?

Ant hills are mounds of dirt, they are of different sizes and can be found almost anywhere. The dirt from which ant hills are made can either be soft or hard and it is usually composed of soil, rock pebbles, sand, branches and more. Ant hills are an indicator of where the ants reside but they are hardly ever located on the top of the hill. Most of the ants are located below the surface level of the ant hill, while the queen usually lives in the deepest level.


How Do Ants Build an Ant Hill?

Ants have a very complicated system of tunnels in the ant hills. When ants build these tunnels they excavate and drag the dirt to the surface, and pile it there which in the end forms an anthill. This may seem random but these hills are strategic and have a few uses. The ant hill controls the internal temperature, acts as an entry point, and even protects them from predators. Basically, as the ants dig deeper, the dirt is taken back to the top and the hill gets bigger and bigger. The more complicated the system of tunnels they have the bigger is the ant hill.


How Deep are Ant Hills?

Ant hills can be quite deep, anywhere from 6 cm to 4 m (2.3622 inches to 13 feet) or even more. The average backyard ant hill and its respective tunnel is around that size but as we will see later, there have been ant hills ant tunnels that are so deep that they look like cities. The depth of the ant hill is proportional to the time period of which that particular ant hill has existed there and to the type of the ant residing there.


Are Ant Hills Bad?

Are Ant Hills Bad

Generally, ant hills are not harmful but they can be a nuisance, disfigure your yard, and in the event of really big colonies they can kill the plants around them. The ant’s mechanism of building their ant hills usually includes reinforcing it in order to preserve it even when the heavy rains come, this means that the ant hills and colonies are quite structurally sound. Generally, ants do not attack unless provoked and so you are also safe from random stings or bites if you don’t mess with them.


What Type of Ants Make Ant Hills?

There are many ant species that make ant hills, some of the most common ones are Texas leafcutter ants, Allegheny mound ants, Pyramid ants, Harvester ants, Argentine ants, and of course Fire ants.

In the event that you are worried about the presence of fire ants in your yard, then know that their mounds are mainly made out of soft earth. You might even miss it because a fire ant mound typically has no opening at the top and the mound resembles a random heap of dirt. They will sting when provoked so be careful to avoid preemptively disturbing their mound as you carry out the treatment.

Related: How Many Types of Ants Are There: Ant Identification Chart

How to Get Rid of Ant Hills – Information


How to Get Rid of Ant Hills in Yard

In order to get rid of the ant hills in your backyard you need to use a pesticide which has a long-lasting effect. Most pesticides promise between three and six months after which you need to treat the yard again. If you have a really large ant hill just skip this section and follow our instructions for “large ant hills”.

Spraying an insecticide directly into the ant mound through the opening is very effective but you need to ensure that your treatment happens when the ants are most active. Also liquid insecticides are terrible for the environment so we usually don’t recommend them unless you are a professional ant exterminator. Also hardly every do store-bought liquid insecticides reach the ant queen when applied on the ant hill.

Applying a granulated or powdered pesticide is a highly effective long-lasting solution. Most products kill ants upon contact and this is why you need to be extra generous with the application of these products so that it can reach all the other ants in the hill including the queen.

Other pesticides require that you activate them with water. Basically, the idea is to sprinkle the powder or granules where the ants pass and then follow it up with water to activate the product.

Note: Some of these products will be discussed below in much more detail. Remember that whichever product you pick, you need to read through the instructions for maximum results.

Related: How to Get Rid of Allegheny Mound Ants: A Complete Guide


How to Get Rid of Large Ant Hills

How to Get Rid of Large Ant Hills

Getting rid of large ant hills is possible, you only need the right tools and to follow particular steps in order so you can get the whole thing out.


Step 1: Mow Down the Grass

First mow down the grass around the large ant hill. Cut the grass as low as you can.


Step 2: Insecticides

Use one of our products from the list in the next section, for example, Amdro Ant Block Granules and apply it around the large ant hill (on the places where the grass was cut) Create a barrier around it and apply as much as you can of it on the ant hill itself. Leave the bait to work for a few days or even a few week (depending on the size). This will be enough of the time for it to reach the queen.


Step 3: Flettening the Ant Hill

Depending on the size of the ant hill this process could take a while as our main goal is for the bait to reach the queen. If you don’t have the time to wait for the ant bait to take its effect you can also start flattening the ant hill mechanically.

For this to be effective, mix any of the below-mentioned products with the soil and also sprinkling it around the yard to prevent ants from dispersing. This will discourage the ants from restarting a colony in your yard and if by any chance you see their queen (in some cases multiple) just destroy it. Again, this method might not be as highly effective as you would wish and you should always wait for the ant baits to kill the queen.


How to Kill Ant Hills | Ant Hill Killer Products


Ortho Orthene Fire Ant Killer

Ortho Orthene Fire Ant Killer1, 12 oz. (2-Pack)
  • Kills the queen and destroys the mound
  • No watering-in required
  • Treats up to 162 mounds (twin pack 324 mounds total)
  • Guaranteed to kill or your money back
  • Use Ortho Orthene Fire Ant Killer as part of Ortho 2-Step Fire...

This product is amazing when it comes to eliminating ant hills from your yard. It is specifically formulated to eliminate fire ants and prevent a resurgence of the new ant hills after the previous ones have been eliminated.

Sprinkle the Ortho Orthene Fire Ant Killer powder around the mounds. Do not even disturb the ant hill itself because doing so may result in the fire ants moving the queen if they detect the danger. So, just sprinkle around an active mound, after which the ants will carry the powder to the queen who will soon die and so will the entire colony.

This powder works fast and even if the ants detect danger and move the queen before she comes into contact with the powder, the results will be satisfying because of the residual effect. To keep ants from building more ant thills, spread the rest of the powder all over the yard. The effects of this product last up to six months and it only needs to be reapplied if you by any chance stop another ant hill.


Amdro Ant Block Granule

This product is a bait that the ants will carry back to their colony and the final result will be the eradication of their colony. Sprinkle it over their pheromone trails to ensure that the worker ants will carry it back into the colony. Also you can use it as a barrier around your house so the ants do not make it inside your home.

This effective ant hill killer has an effect up to around 25 species of ants including fire ants and carpenter ants. This particular product is for outdoor use and pet owners should ensure that their furry friends aren’t around while the lawn is being treated with this product.


TERRO 3 lb Ant Killer Plus

Terro T901SR, Listed Insects 3 lb Ant Killer Plus – Also Kills Cockroaches, Fleas-2 Pack, Brown
  • 2 shaker bags included
  • Kills ants, fire ants, cockroaches, fleas and other insects
  • Fast-acting granules kill insects in 24 hours
  • Keep insects out – use as band treatment around house...
  • Convenient, resealable shaker bag – no spreader required

This product kills almost every type of ants and even fire ants are not spared by this ant killer. It comes in a convenient shaker bag and once you have sprinkled it over the ant hill, water it immediately, use a gallon of water per mound. You can also apply this product around your house as a barrier and also do not forget to water the granules immediately after application.


How to Get Rid of Ant Hills Naturally – Natural Ant Hill Killers

How to Get Rid of Ant Hills Naturally – Natural Ant Hill Killers

As mentioned above, getting rid of the ant hills needs to be done carefully and the main goal of every method is to somehow reach the ant queen and destroy her. This can be accomplished by the following home remedies. Just note that they are not nearly as effective as the products and methods that we have mentioned above.


• DIY Ant Baits

Borax mixed with either sugar, honey, or peanut butter can also work as an ant bait. Once they carry it back to their queen and she ingests the bait, it will be the end of the whole colony. Just ensure that you have placed enough baits around the compound.


• Hot Water

Pouring hot water on ant hills works surprisingly well. The hot water travels through the tunnels and continues to kill the ants upon contact.


• Diatomaceous Earth

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Diatomaceous earth is another way to kill the ants. It dries up their exoskeleton and they die of dehydration. Sprinkle the dust over the ant hill, this will be effective in killing some ants and maybe even the queen can become the victim as well.


• Vinegar

Using vinegar to get rid of the ant hills may not be as effective as you would like it to be. Usually, ants flee from the strong smell of vinegar and so the only way to actually make it have an effect on the anthill in your back yard is by mixing it with water and using the mixture to flood the ant tunnels. This will result in some ants drowning but the eventual results are not that good


• Boric Acid

Boric acid is very popular for its effectiveness. You can sprinkle it over the ant hill or even on the ant trails so that the ants will eventually come into contact with it and start dying.


• Mechanicaly Removing the Ant Hills

Now that the ants are out of the way, it is time to level the ground they once claimed as their own. Flood the tunnels with hot soapy water to kill any remaining ants. After that is done, level the ground and even plant on it ensuring that all entry points are well sealed to avoid any other ant colony taking up residence.

The idea of just leaving the tunnels as they were certainly is convenient as you won’t have to do anything more but there is also the risk of another colony occupying the tunnels and continuing where the old one left off.


Pouring Aluminum into Ant Hill: Is This a Good Way to Get Rid of Them?

Aluminum casting is certainly an interesting method but extremely costly and somewhat dangerous. It requires you to be very careful because you will be melting metal after all. We are going to include this method just because it is fun and with this method you can get an amazing work of art after the aluminum solidifies again.

Equipment you need for this process:

  • As for the source of aluminum, you can use soda cans because they are easy to find, they are free and they melt really fast. You can also choose to scavenge the junkyard for aluminum objects for your project.
  • Create or buy a forge/hearth/fireplace for heating the metal.
  • A melting pot where the aluminum items go into before placing on the forge (fire).
  • A fire extinguisher
  • Welding gloves and apron
  • Face shield
  • Tongs
  • Sand

Get all your items together and then as soon as the fire is hot, place on it your pot containing the aluminum. Remember aluminum melts on a temperature of 660.3 °C or 1220.54 °F. This means you need to be well-armed to protect yourself from any potential danger; masks, apron, tongs, etc. Now shape the sand around the mound opening. The sand will act as a barrier to keep the molten aluminum from flowing away from the mound as you pour.

If the aluminum flows away from the mound opening, a fire could start, here is where you need the fire extinguisher. Also, ensure that the sand doesn’t get into the hole because it could block it and keep the molten aluminum from flowing freely through the tunnels.

Once the aluminum is liquid, use tongs to remove the pot from the fire, and then pour it over the sand opening on the ant mound. Keep pouring until the aluminum stops flowing inside the tunnels and instead fills up the sand opening. Always make sure you have melted more aluminum than you will need because you do not know how deep the tunnels go. Leave the aluminum to cool down for a couple of hours, then dig around the top of the now solid aluminum cast.

Dig as far as the now solid aluminum goes, be careful not to burn yourself if the casting is still hot or even breaking off the casting. Once you have removed it, hose it down to remove the dirt that is trapped in between the branches of the casting. Your casting, depending on how well you followed the above instructions or even how deep the tunnels were, is now a beautiful piece of art that you can display in your home or do as you please with it.


World’s Biggest Ant Hills: Information and Facts

Ants are well organized, multiply fast and they have sophisticated mounds, this is why it is no wonder that these small pests have the potential of getting out of control. While some ant nests are really small and easily manageable, there have been others that deserved their place in the Guinness book of records because of how massive they are.

In the year 2000 a supper colony of Argentine ants was discovered in Southern Europe. This colony is really massive and is believed to stretch for over 3,700 miles and it has around billions of ant workers and millions of nests. This discovery blew the previous owner of the title, the Japanese super ant colony, out of the water by far. The Hokkaido ant colony housed 45000 nests that stretched over 670 acres of land.


Summary

Ant hills are a nuisance once they pop up in your yard but following or methods above and products will help you get rid of them and even prevent a new resurgence. All is not lost once you find an ant hill in your yard because as you can see, you can even turn that discovery into an intricate work of art. As always, if you don’t feel like doing any of our above methods, call a professional ant exterminator and your ant problem will be solved in a few hours.

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List of Sources

Lewis D., Ant Mounds in Lawns, Iowa State University

Ant mounds in lawns and sidewalks, Iowa State University

Vogt J.T., Wallet B., & Coy S. (2008), Dynamic thermal structure of imported fire ant mounds, Journal of insect science

Maier R.M., Potter D.A., Factors affecting distribution of the mound-building ant Lasius neoniger (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and implications for management on golf course putting greens. J Econ Entomol

Mound ants, Michigan State University Extension

Bristow C. M., Cappaert D., Campbell N. J., Heise A., (1992), Nest structure and colony cycle of the Allegheny mound ant