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Ants Outdoors

Ants are nest forming social insects that can be a nuisance in the garden, some species protect and 'farm' pests such as aphids and scale insects.


Ants in the garden can be more than a nuisance and a source of infestation in the home. Some ant species will attack and remove competing invertebrates from their environment and protect and 'farm' sap sucking pest insects such as aphids and scale insects. They feed on the honey dew droplets that aphids and scale will produce as waste from their feeding on plant sap.

Ants are social insects, building nests containing many thousands of individuals. The nests are often in warm, dry areas of the garden such as under paving stones, paths, driveways and plant pots. Ants that invade homes in search of food are most often from nests located in the garden.

Control of ants in the garden can be important, both for removing a nuisance and as part of the control of the insect pests such as aphids and scale insects that they 'farm.' Ants protect the aphids and scale so that they can feed on the honeydew that the sap sucking pests produce.

Flying Ants - Often referred to as alates, ants with wings are the female queenand male ants who grow wings, take the air for a nuptial flight to reproduce, and start new colonies. This happens in the form of swarms that can be of significant numbers. Read more.


To get rid of ants in the garden follow these steps:

  • Search > Identify the nest sites. In most cases ant nests will be in warm, dry sandy soil, often under a rock, paving stone, driveway etc. On warm days search for a stream of worker ants going back and forth into a hole in the ground. If the entrance to nests cannot be found, drop some fine bread crumbs near ant trails and watch to see where ants take the crumbs. Do not treat this entrance with insecticide yet. 
    Now carry out the Kiwicare 1-2-3 Bait-Barrier-Destroy program.
  • How to Get Rid of Ants video
  1. Kill the queens > Workers feed on the bait and take it back to the nest to feed the queen(s) and larvae. Use many small amounts of Kiwicares NO Ants Gel Bait  or NO Ants Liquid Bait where you see ants or have seen them in the past. If the gel is not being taken, try the liquid bait and vice versa. ?Replenish the bait regularly until you see no more (or very few) insects feeding. Only then should you use spray insecticide to eradicate the nests and to act as a barrier to further infestation.
  2. Stop them with barriers > NO Ants Barrier Spray and NO Bugs Super surface sprays will kill ants that cross the treated surfaces but will also act as a barrier; many ants will avoid the treated surfaces if possible. Sprinkle PLANThealth Insect Hit Granules or LawnPro Lawnguard Granules on flowerbeds and gravel pathways in a ring around the home and around shrubs and trees where ants would 'farm' sap sucking insects. When watered in it penetrates the soil killing nests and acting as a ‘curtain’ barrier.
  3. Deny them a nest site NO Ants Ant Sand can be brushed into the cracks and crevices in paving and driveways to kill nests and prevent ants using these places for nests.


Did you know

The nests of some species will co-operate and can be regarded as a super colony. 

Ant colonies contain at least 3 castes (some have a fourth caste of soldier ants):

Queens >  which are fertilised females after the wings are cast off
Males > short lived often with wings to take part in nuptial flights with females that become queens
Workers > usually sterile females comprising the bulk of the colony.

Foraging workers that you may see out seeking food are usually only about 5% of the colony, so controlling the ants you see with insecticide is only temporary and should only be done after controlling the nest with baits.

Invasive ants such as Argentine ants are more than just a nuisance pest. They are also a threat to New Zealand's biodiversity as they attack and eliminate other insects and invertebrates when they move into a new area. We are at risk of bringing biting ants such as red imported fire ant into New Zealand. There have been three incursions of Fire Ants in New Zealand since 2001 but these have been successfully eradicated by MAF Biosecurity.

As nuisance pests ants can cause electrical and electronic faults when they get into equipment such as elctric gates, switch gear, exchanges and computers, they can contaminate food stuffs, and damage garden plants.

Ant colonies will often combine during Winter and separate again in Summer. During Midsummer - late Autumn, swarms of winged males and females of many species take off on nuptial flights. After their nuptials the ants fall to the ground, the males perish and the fertilised females, now queens, cast their wings and crawl off in search of locations for the establishment of new colonies.

Scientific names of important pest ants in New Zealand:


Some ants 'farm' aphids and scale insects for sweet secretions and it worth treating your plants with suitable garden insecticides to control these sapsucking plant pests and deny the ants their food supply.

LawnPro Lawnguard Granules or PLANThealth Insect Hit Granules are useful in areas of garden where ants are a nuisance and as an additional barrier around a house or other building. The prills (granules) are sprinkled onto soil and gravel surfaces where ants are travelling and then watered in to take the insecticide deep into the soil, forming a curtain barrier.

More information on Darwin AntsArgentine Ants and White Footed Ants.

Download the Kiwicare 1-2-3 Ant Control Programme Document for your future reference.

Adobe Acrobat Document1-2-3 Ant Control Programme Technical Sheet
Adobe Acrobat Document, 733 KB
Kiwicare 1-2-3 Ant Control Technical Sheet. All you need to learn how to get rid of pest ants and keep them out of your home.

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