What Chemicals do Exterminators Use for Ants? - Pest Samurai (2023)

It’s a common misconception that every bug can be killed with the same chemicals. Sure, some chemicals work better than others but pests have adapted to some products over time, which is why not every chemical can kill every insect.

Most noticeable adaption is with bed bugs, chemicals that are used today to fight them are different than the ones in the past.

What chemicals do exterminators use for ants? According to the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, the most used chemicals for ants are pyrethroids and pyrethrin. Other commonly used chemicals are:

  • Piperonyl Butoxide
  • Hydramethylnon
  • Methoprene and Pyriproxyfen
  • Neonicotinoids
  • Avermectin
  • Fipronil
  • Fenoxycarbs and Indoxacarbs
  • Metaflumizone
  • Carbamates and Organophosphates

What Chemicals do Exterminators Use for Ants? - Pest Samurai (1)

Beware that every exterminator has a different mixture (formula) and ratio, which is more or less the same in terms of ingredients. One exterminator might add 50% of “X” and 50% of water or something else, while the other one can have a different ratio.

In this article, we’re going to talk about different chemicals the exterminators use for killing ants. Grab your cup of coffee and stay with us. Let’s begin!

Table of Contents

List of Ant Control Chemicals

What Chemicals do Exterminators Use for Ants? - Pest Samurai (2)

Before paying for an exterminator, be sure it’s the respectable one. The reason being is because he will always tell you what chemicals he is using, as well as potential health risks that they carry.

For example, chemicals like chlorpyrifos, diazinon, and organophosphates, in general, are forbidden by the Environmental Protection Agency since 2001.

So, if your exterminator tells you he’s using one of these, you should think about hiring him. Here are the typical chemicals that exterminators usually use for ants:

Pyrethroids and Pyrethrins

When talking about the most common ingredients in insecticides, permethrin is in the first place. Of course, only the licensed exterminators are allowed to use this chemical.

This chemical is just one part of a huge class of insecticides better known as pyrethroids. Pyrethroids and pyrethrins work in a very similar manner – they paralyze the ants, which eventually kills them.

(Video) How to Get Rid of Ants: Guaranteed Ant Control in Home & Yard (4 Easy Steps)

Furthermore, pyrethroids mimic pyrethrins, and pyrethrins are botanical insecticides derived from chrysanthemum flowers. Almost 4,000 registered products used for households’ exterminations contain these chemicals. They’re also included in agriculture, mosquito control, and pet protection.

Why are they so widely used? Well, because they’re very safe for both humans and animals, as they don’t trigger any allergic reactions or asthma. The downside is that they’re toxic for fishes and other aquatic organisms, so you should never throw them in the river.

Piperonyl Butoxide

Piperonyl butoxide often works in conjunction with MGK-264 substance. These substances aren’t pesticides and because of that, they can’t kill ants alone. When added to pyrethrins and other substances, though, they act as an enhancer, so they make the insecticide’s effect stronger.

Although EPA classified piperonyl butoxide as a carcinogen, it also says that the chemical isn’t toxic to humans. On the other side, allergic reactions like diarrhea and vomiting can be caused.


Hydramethylnon doesn’t seem very effective at first. This is because it slowly kills the insects like cockroaches, termites, and of course, ants. This is among the most popular insecticides for ants and we know that many exterminators use it.

When you apply the chemical, the ants that come in contact will become lethargic. They will start to grow weaker and will be dead in three or four days. Although it’s not going to mutilate all of the ants immediately, it’s a great long-term solution.

If some insects are alive, for example, they’ll gather again and will try to take retake their position. But, with hydramethylnon in place, they will not be able to do that. What about its health risks, though? EPA also classed this one as a potential carcinogen.

On the flip side, it isn’t that much toxic to humans, with possible respiratory tract and eye irritation if not used carefully.

Methoprene and Pyriproxyfen

These two substances fall under the insect growth regulators. As their names imply, they work by slowing down or inhibiting the insect’s development from the initial stage to the adult stage. Although they work on every type of ant, the exterminators mostly use it to eliminate fire ants.

In terms of toxicity to humans, methoprene and pyriproxyfen aren’t toxic to humans. But, similarly to pyrethrins and pyrethroids, they’re very toxic to aquatic animals. It’s always recommended that your exterminator disposes of them properly e.g. don’t throw it in water.


Neonicotinoids probably sound familiar to you. If you’re growing some plants in your yard, you’ve probably used them to repel bees or other insects that might do some damage. The interesting thing is that these are relatively new chemicals, first introduced in 1994 in the USA.

This group of chemicals is found in pollen and nectar of some plants and is very toxic to bees. Chemicals like clothianidin, imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and acetamiprid are typical representatives of this group. They’re vastly used for indoor ant control in a form of either liquid or gel.

If your exterminator uses it, chances are that you have carpenter ants, fire ants or Argentine ants, as neonicotinoids work flawlessly against those insects. But, neonicotinoids, despite posing a moderate threat to human health, should still be used carefully.

Since they get into your body via the skin, you should never touch the treated place. Furthermore, neonicotinoids can negatively affect your nervous system. For example, imidacloprid is known for reducing sperm counts in some animals during long-term exposure.


What Chemicals do Exterminators Use for Ants? - Pest Samurai (3)
(Video) Ants in your house? Do this.

Avermectin is a very effective insecticide against Argentine ants, fire ants, and carpenter ants. Since these 3 are the most common culprits, this chemical has become very popular among the exterminators in the USA. Baits that contain avermectin are often found in granules, and not liquids or sprays.

In its pureform, abamectin or Avermectin has very high toxicity. But, for killing ants,only a small concentration of this chemical is used, which in this case, isn’tas toxic. If you get exposed to Avermectin, know that it’s toxic to yournervous system. And if you’re a woman,it can tamper with the fetus’s development in the early stages of pregnancy.

Thankfully, you can’t absorb higher amounts of this chemical through your skin.


Fipronil is yet another possible carcinogen, as claimed by EPA. Yet, it’s effective at killing all types of ants, including Argentine ants, carpenter ants, and fire ants. It comes in multiple forms, ranging from granules, gels, liquids, and even impregnated materials.

The chemical has a very strong effect on ants but unfortunately, it’s also very toxic to humans when ingested. It can be absorbed through the skin but not entirely. The effect is concentrated on the nervous system, in both ants and humans.

Fenoxycarbs and Indoxacarbs

Fenoxycarbs are used specifically for fire ants and rarely for other types of ants. These granules have low toxicity and aren’t absorbed well through the skin. But, if you’re exposed to them in the long run, they can be toxic to your liver and represent a possible carcinogen, as implied by EPA.

Indoxacarbs are very similar, as they’re used for fire ants, and also come in granules. The toxicity is also low and side effects are the same, with the difference being that indoxacarbs are slightly less toxic.


Once again, a chemical for killing fire ants – metaflumizone. Metaflumizone comes in two shapes, either pelleted or granular. With low acute toxicity to humans, it’s relatively safe to use in the households’ exterminations.

Carbamates and Organophosphates

Carbamates are often used as herbicides or insecticides with the ability to affect the nervous systems of humans and insects. They interfere with the transmission of nerve impulses through the inhibition of an enzyme called cholinesterase.

Typical representatives of carbamates include carbaryl, aldicarb, carbofuran, butylate, and thiobencarb.

Organophosphates do the same as carbamates but different chemicals represent them. Some of them are diazinon, phosmet, malathion, chlorpyrifos, and azinphos-methyl. In the beginning, we said that these were forbidden but they were used before the 2000s.

The reason for their removal is that they’re hazardous to children. Furthermore, a couple of these chemicals are possible carcinogens and they’re neurotoxic at low doses.

Should You Use These Chemicals on Your Own?

Never! The chemicals we mentioned above can be pretty dangerous if used by someone who is not an exterminator. Chemicals like these are used only by the licensed exterminators who know how to handle them without posing a threat to the environment.

If you want to kill ants in your house without the help of an exterminator, we recommend using only the safe pesticides that you can buy on Amazon or any other reliable vendor.

What Chemicals do Exterminators Use for Ants? - Pest Samurai (4)

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(Video) Pest Control : How to Kill Ants

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Now that you’re at the end of this article, we inform you that this was strictly informational. You should know what your exterminator is using for killing ants, and now that you know the most popular chemicals, you can ask him about some of them and choose the best option.

(Video) How to Spray for Ants Outdoors | DoMyOwn.com

When killing ants or any type of pests, you should first worry about preserving your health. If your exterminator won’t tell you about the chemicals he’s using, we suggest avoiding him. Ants can be terrifying but with the right professionals, you can get rid of them quickly, without endangering your health. Best of luck!

List of Sources

Pyrethrins and Pyrethroids, United States Environmental Protection Agency

Jiang W., Soeprono A., Rust M.K., Gan J., Ant control efficacy of pyrethroids and fipronil on outdoor concrete surfaces, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of California

Reregistration Eligibility Decision for Piperonyl Butoxide (PBO), United States Environmental Protection Agency

Hydramethylnon, United States Environmental Protection Agency

Methoprene, National Center for Biotechnology Information, PubChem Database. CID=5366546

Pyriproxyfen, National Center for Biotechnology Information, PubChem Database. CID=91753

Neonicotinoid Pesticides & Adverse Health Outcomes, NTP at the Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Eco-toxicological effects of the avermectin family with a focus on abamectin and ivermectin, Bai S.H., Ogbourne S.

Tingle C.C., Rother J.A., Dewhurst C.F., Lauer S., King W.J., Fipronil: environmental fate, ecotoxicology, and human health concerns, Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich at Medway

Fenoxycarb, National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Database. CID=51605

Fact Sheet for Indoxacarb, United States Environmental Protection Agency

Takagi K., Hamaguchi H., Nishimatsu T., Konno T., Discovery of metaflumizone, a novel semicarbazone insecticide

Organophosphate and Carbamate Pesticides, Delaware Health and Social Services


What chemical do pest control companies use for ants? ›

Most pest control companies use pesticides called pyrethrins and pyrethroids, including Permethrin. These mimic natural and organic pesticides found in varieties of chrysanthemums. There are also a few other chemicals that are used but sometimes not as common.

What do professionals use for ant control? ›

Pest control professionals use gel baits for ants. It is a handy solution that is effective if the anthill or nest is at the surface. The exterminator will apply the bait near the ant-infested areas and wait for the ants to ingest it.

What do exterminators do to get rid of ants? ›

Once a home's sealed and secure against new ants, an ant control company will get rid of the ant's inside your home. Ant traps are the most common method of ant extermination. Ant traps, or baits, can come in gels, granules, or station. Ant traps are usually sugar- or protein-based, to target ants' particular diets.

What kind of powder do exterminators use? ›

Pyrethrin & Pyrethroids

Pyrethrin and pyrethroids are pesticides used by exterminators. These are active ingredients found in sprays used by experts and only by licensed pest exterminators. This is a chemical pesticide that is used in eliminating pests because it can paralyze pests and will die afterward.

Is it worth getting an exterminator for ants? ›

Professional ant extermination has many benefits, including the following: Pest identification. Different baits and chemicals are only effective on certain pests. A professional exterminator will be able to properly identify what type of ant you have bothering your home so they can set the right type of trap.

What chemical does Terminix use for ants? ›

Hydramethylnon. Hydramethylnon slowly but effectively kills tons of pests, from ants to crickets to silverfish and cockroaches.

How long does it take for ants to go away after exterminator? ›

When one of our experienced exterminators treats your ant infestation, it may take more than one visit to kill the colony. Improvement should be seen quickly, but complete elimination can take anywhere from several weeks to a couple of months.

How do you stop an ant infestation? ›

“The most effective method for controlling an ant infestation is using ant baits. Set them out anywhere you see ants and expect a party,” Gangloff-Kaufmann says. “If you still see ants around the house, try a few different brands of baits until you find one that's appealing to this particular colony.”

What does Orkin use to spray for ants? ›

Among the many carpenter ant pesticides available in stores, boric acid is one of the most readily available products for controlling carpenter ants and other ant species.

What kills ants the quickest? ›

Boiling water

Boiling water is an easy, effective way to kill ants immediately.

Can an exterminator get rid of black ants? ›

Carpenter ants are one of the most difficult pests to eliminate even for professionals especially around the rainy seasons creating a damp environment perfect for carpenter ants to thrive in. It can take a professional ant exterminator multiple treatments and up to a year to completely get rid of the infestation.

What stops ants from coming in the house? ›

8 Ways to Prevent Ants from Entering Your House
  1. Take Notice of Scout Ants. ...
  2. Keep Surfaces in and Around Your Home Clean. ...
  3. Store Food in Sealed Containers. ...
  4. Seal Off Cracks & Entrances to Your Home. ...
  5. Remove Ant Trails. ...
  6. Deploy Ant Baits around Active Areas. ...
  7. Control Ant Colonies around Your Property.
8 May 2015

Is diatomaceous earth better than boric acid? ›

Diatomaceous earth kills insects faster than boric acid. What kind of insect are you dealing with? Typically, boric acid has been shown to be particularly effective in the fight against cockroaches.

What powder does Terminix use? ›

Diatomaceous Earth: Bed Bug Repellent | Terminix.

What chemicals do Terminix use? ›

In regards to what chemical does Terminix uses for pest control, they utilize pyrethrins and pyrethroids, industry-standard pest control substances. Chemicals in this class include the active ingredient Permethrin.

How long does spraying for ants last? ›

Unfortunately ant treatment does not last forever, and it requires upkeep to ensure that ants do not return. Typically monthly visits are necessary for 3-6 months depending on the scope of the treatment. On these visits the technician will exterminate the existing ants in your home.

Does spraying for ants work? ›

Ant killer sprays kill on contact, but only about 20 percent of an ant colony will venture outside. This leaves the vast majority of the colony intact. This means more frequent re-treatment will be needed to fully eliminate an ant problem. A better spray option is a non-repellent spray formulated for outdoor use.

When should you exterminate ants? ›

When Ant Infestations Continue To Occur. If there have been multiple and separate occurrences of ant infestation, it's time to call an exterminator. If ants continue to return, even after multiple DIY treatments, something isn't working.

Do exterminators use harmful chemicals? ›

The chemicals applied by professional exterminators aren't to be trifled with. They're dangerous, and not just to household pests. (Here are some of the pesticides that cause cancer.) They could be a problem for you and your pets.

What company sprays for ants? ›

Take a look!
  • Wondercide Ant and Roach Spray.
  • Raid Ant Spray.
  • TERRO Ant Killer Aerosol Spray.
  • Eco Defense Organic Pest Control.

How long does pyrethrin last? ›

In air, all six of the pyrethrins and many of the pyrethroids are broken down or degraded rapidly by sunlight or other compounds found in the atmosphere. Often, they last only 1 or 2 days before being degraded.

Why am I seeing more ants after exterminator? ›

It's completely normal to see ants, spiders, and cockroaches come out in abundance after your first treatment. In addition, some treatment products are specifically designed to work slowly. Ants and cockroaches are both treated with such products.

Why are there more ants after exterminator? ›

It's actually expected to see an increase in ants for the first few days after your first treatment. While the aim is to push the ants inside the home to the outside, the ants may try to escape the pesticide from the outside and will end up going inside the house.

Do ants come out after spraying? ›

It is normal to see them coming out after the spray because it only means that they were sprayed by the chemicals that will kill them. Bugs will come out because they are trying to escape the sprays applied to them.

What smell do ants hate? ›

Peppermint is a natural insect repellant. You can plant mint around your home or use the essential oil of peppermint as a natural remedy for control of ants. Ants hate the smell, and your home will smell minty fresh! Plant mint around entryways and the perimeter of your home.

What is the fastest way to get rid of ants in your house? ›

White vinegar, available at all grocery stores, is a cheap and effective way to kill and repel ants. It is also a natural cleaning agent. Try using a 1-to-1 vinegar/water mixture to clean hard surfaces, including floors and countertops, wherever ants are likely to travel.

Why do I suddenly have an ant infestation? ›

Ants explore mainly to try and find sources of food. Whenever there's a sudden ant infestation, the most likely cause of it is that there's food somewhere in your house for them. Most ants are opportunistic feeders; they'll eat just about anything. But they usually prefer sweets.

Is ant pesticide harmful to humans? ›

It has low acute toxicity and is not well absorbed through the skin, but with longer-term exposure, it is toxic to the liver and is a Probable carcinogen. Use of aerosol sprays or foggers is not recommended, due to the high probability of harm during the application from inhaling the aerosol.

What does boric acid do to ants? ›

Boric acid is toxic to ants. When the insect ingests a small quantity of boric acid, it doesn't kill it right away – slowly but surely, the ant will be poisoned. The way boric acid-based bait works is simple: It attracts foraging ants, which swallow it and hold it in their stomach, without dying.

How long does it take to get rid of ant infestation? ›

Because ants swarm, once you have an infestation, they can be difficult to dislodge. It takes vigilance and a combination of treatments using both home and perimeter insect control, but an ant problem can typically be resolved within a week or two. Follow-up prevention is key to ensure that they do not return.

How do I get rid of ants permanently outside? ›

How to Get Rid of Outdoor Ants
  1. Boiling water. Rake open the nest and pour in boiling water (add liquid soap for extra killing power). ...
  2. Vinegar. Mix equal parts vinegar and water. ...
  3. Water. Soak the nest for 15 to 30 minutes with water from a hose, saturating soil. ...
  4. Boric acid. ...
  5. Chemical ant killers.

What do professionals spray for ants? ›

Boric acid is one of the most common chemicals in the extermination world. Usually, it's spread around the house as a powder. Not only is it effective at killing ants, but it's also used for cockroaches and termites. Boric acid attracts the ants with its sweetness, then poisons their stomachs once digested.

What chemicals does Terminix use for ants? ›

What Chemicals do Exterminators Use for Ants?
  • Piperonyl Butoxide.
  • Hydramethylnon.
  • Methoprene and Pyriproxyfen.
  • Neonicotinoids.
  • Avermectin.
  • Fipronil.
  • Fenoxycarbs and Indoxacarbs.
  • Metaflumizone.
25 Aug 2020

Is ant spray toxic to breathe? ›

Most household bug sprays contain plant-derived chemicals called pyrethrins. These chemicals were originally isolated from chrysanthemum flowers and are generally not harmful. However, they can cause life-threatening breathing problems if they are breathed in.

How long does it take for boric acid to work on ants? ›

Ants aren't attracted to borax/boric acid alone, but it is odorless and can be combined with things ants do like to eat to create a bait. Each ant who eats ant killer borax/boric acid bait will typically die within 24-48 hours.

Is boric acid or borax better for killing ants? ›

Both borax and boric acid may be used interchangeably for killing ants. In fact, it is advisable that you substitute borax for boric acid if you notice that the ants are not attracted to the borax bait. Studies show that some ant species are more likely to reject borax baits than boric acid baits and vice-versa.

How long does boric acid last for ants? ›

Boric Acid Gels & Liquid:

Exposed to air, gel will remain effective for about three days, so it needs to be replenished frequently.

What does Orkin use to spray for ants? ›

Among the many carpenter ant pesticides available in stores, boric acid is one of the most readily available products for controlling carpenter ants and other ant species.

Do ants get worse after spraying? ›

It's actually expected to see an increase in ants for the first few days after your first treatment. While the aim is to push the ants inside the home to the outside, the ants may try to escape the pesticide from the outside and will end up going inside the house.

What smell do ants hate? ›

Peppermint is a natural insect repellant. You can plant mint around your home or use the essential oil of peppermint as a natural remedy for control of ants. Ants hate the smell, and your home will smell minty fresh! Plant mint around entryways and the perimeter of your home.

What stops ants from coming in the house? ›

8 Ways to Prevent Ants from Entering Your House
  1. Take Notice of Scout Ants. ...
  2. Keep Surfaces in and Around Your Home Clean. ...
  3. Store Food in Sealed Containers. ...
  4. Seal Off Cracks & Entrances to Your Home. ...
  5. Remove Ant Trails. ...
  6. Deploy Ant Baits around Active Areas. ...
  7. Control Ant Colonies around Your Property.
8 May 2015

What can you put around your house to keep ants away? ›

Salt, baby powder, lemon juice, chalk, vinegar, bay leaves, cinnamon, or peppermint oil are a few items that you have around your home that will stop ants from coming inside. Lay these out in areas where you see ants, and they'll stop using that area as an entrance into your house.

How do I get rid of ants in my walls? ›

You can apply sugar-based ant baits, ant traps, bait station, or liquid spray to get rid of pavement ants in walls or cracks. Follow the trail of ants and inspect their entry points and shelters. After inspection, apply sprays or baits at the infested wall voids and pavements.


1. 6 Easy Ways to Get Rid of Ants and Prevent Ant Infestations | The Home Depot
(The Home Depot)
2. How to Kill House Ants Fast & Easy
3. Sumari® Ant Gel Bait delivers long-lasting control of ants
(MGK Company)
4. Get Rid of Ants: Fast, Cheap and Easy
(Fraser Valley Rose Farm)
5. Termidor SC vs Taurus SC
(Do-It-Yourself Pest Control)
6. 3 Natural Ant Control Methods Using Household Ingredients That Actually WORK
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