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Does Deet Repel Ants? (Answered)

DEET is known for its mosquito repellant characteristics. But is it effective against ants? Nowadays, most bug repellents contain DEET. Can you use them to repel ants? 

This article will describe how DEET affects ants, how you can use it to repel ants with it and some essential information you must know about DEET before using it.

Does deet repel ants?

DEET is effective in repelling ants. It blocks ants’ signaling organs and makes them confused. It enters their body through the breathing holes called spiracles and ends their life after a while. However, it may not stop ants from biting, as confused ants can bite more aggressively. 

There are 1200 species of ants on our globe, and almost all of them are capable of biting humans. Many species are pretty harmless, while some ant species are notorious for their painful bites and stings. 

Red ants, carpenter ants, and harvester ants are some of the biting species.

Among the biting ants, imported red ants can be harmful to humans. Their bites can cause painful allergies and health issues for sensitive people. If there are red ant colonies in your backyard and you have children and pets, it’s always a concern. 

So, how do you get rid of ants? Is  DEET effective in repelling ants? The chemical name of DEET is N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide. The American army invented it in 1946 to repel bugs in their camp. After that, the chemical is used in many widespread bug repellent sprays and products.

Luckily, DEET is effective against ants. It disturbs ants’ chemical signaling instantly and makes them confused. Like most other bugs, ants breathe through tiny holes called spiracles. The chemical enters those breathing holes and creates a toxic reaction that ends their life. 

The exact reason is not yet understood by the scientists, but it has been proved that DEET works well to remove ants and make a place ant resistant by applying it.

However, there are some health concerns related to the DEET. It can affect a newborn’s brain and nerve development. However, babies more than two months old, children and adults don’t have health risks if used properly. 

It can be harmful to pets like cats and dogs if they directly contact DEET frequently. It damages their nervous system causing severe health issues and being fetal. We will get deeper into those and provide tips to use them safely. 

Before that, let’s talk about how DEET affects some common ant species.

Fire ants: 

DEET effectively terminates ants, and if you apply DEET in a place, red ants will not come there for days.

Sugar ants: 

DEET can repel and terminate sugar ants. Sugar ants do not bite or sting and are not harmful to humans and pets.

Black ants: 

Common black ants are mostly harmless, and you can remove them by using bug repellant that has DEET in it.

Does deet terminate ants?

DEET can terminate ants if the ant comes in direct contact with DEET. Passive contact may not end their life instantly but deactivate the antenna they use to communicate and sense the world. It’s kind of like making the ants blind for a long time. 

If DEET enters their body, it will cause the end of their life. If you spray DEET containing repellent over the ants, the ants will slowly disperse after some moment. DEET is not just harmful to ants; it can also be dangerous for humans and animals. 

Direct contact with DEET must be avoided. It can be fatal if a high concentration of DEET entrees the human or pet body. 20%-30% of DEET is safe for indirect contact. If you have pets in your house, you should avoid DEET and choose alternative pet-friendly pest repellents.

3 reasons why deet repel ants

DEET is a repellant agent that actively deters many bugs and insects. There is a lack of scientific data that says precisely what characteristics of DEET repel or terminate ants. But there are strong interpretations that can give us some idea about why DEET repels ants. Check out the following reasons.

Ants can’t tolerate strong-smelling chemicals:

Ants are entirely dependent on their sensory organs, such as the antenna. Using their antennae, they communicate, find paths, and look for food. If somehow the sensory organ is not working correctly, it completely disconnects from the physical world. 

They also have poor eyesight. 

Any strong-smelling chemicals block the sensory organs of the ants. Even your body spray can deter ants. Bug repellent that contains DEET also contains some types of strong chemical smell, which is enough to confuse them.

Blocks their breathing:

The small holes in ants’ exo-escalation help them to breathe. If some chemical enters their breathing hole, that can irritate them. They run away from the source of the chemical. If the chemical is harmless, the ant will survive.

This happens with most of the bugs. That’s why most bugs are weak to sprays and smokes, as the smoke and spray molecules can easily enter through their breathing hole of them.

DEET is toxic:

DEET is highly toxic to ants and other bugs. Direct contact will cause the end of their lives, while indirect contact will effectively repel them. The chemical causes irritation and breathing issues in ants. 

For this reason, ants go away from a place with a DEET smell.

Will deet stop ants from biting?

DEET will not stop angry ants from biting. DEET will confuse their senses, but they can still bite you if you step into their space. 

Stepping on an ant’s mound will make the ants aggressive, and they will not care about anything and bite you. They will bite you till their last breath. That’s heroic, isn’t it? 

However, what can we learn from this? You can repel ants with DEET. Still, you have to watch out from their mounds. Even if you spray DEET repellent on your boots, many ants will ignore the repellent to save their home and queen. 

Imported red ants are most reckless when it comes to saving their mount. They will bite aggressively and make you dance if you step on their mound. 

How to use deet to repel ants?

Knowing the proper ways to use DEET to repel ants and bugs is essential as there are health concerns related to DEET products. To deter ants from your house and property, follow the following steps to use DEET repellent.

Understand if you really need to use it:

Ants are essential parts of our ecosystem and can benefit your backyard. You may want to repel them from your house, but repelling them from your backyard may not be the best choice in most cases. 

However, if you have red ants or other biting ants in your backyard, you may want to repel them from your house.

There are other concerns with DEET too. If you have pets in your house, you should avoid using DEET around your pets. You will find pet-friendly bug repellants in pet stores. If you have newborn babies in your home, you also need to avoid using DEET repellent.

Check the instruction: 

First, check the instructions for the repellant. Read all the information thoroughly. Understand how to store and use it. Also, check the expiration date. An expired bug repellent can be dangerous to human health. 

Make sure the concentration of DEET in the repellent is under 30%.

Ensure cations:

Wear a mask and eye-protective glass before applying DEET. If you are using indoors, make sure to apply in an empty room where no one is inside. After 10-15 min, anyone can enter the room without cations. Wash your hands after using DEET repellents.

However, you don’t need to apply DEET repellent like mosquitos to repel ants. Apply it only on the common path and entrance of ants. You can also directly apply DEET repellent on ant nests to repel them.

What repels ants from biting me?

Nothing will help you from ant bites if you don’t use your eyes. Ants will sacrifice their life for biting you if you step on their nest. So your eyes are your best friend to avoid ant bites. 

However, there are some products you can use on your shoe and socks that protect against crawling ants.

  • Repellent that contains DEET
  • Repellent that contains Picaridin
  • White vinegar spray
  • Garlic oil spray
  • Peppermint oil spray
  • Eucalyptus oil spray
  • Lavender
  • Cinnamon

Final Thoughts 

DEET does repel ants, but you can’t expect DEET repellent to save your legs from ant bites after you step on their nest. DEET is generally non-toxic to humans in low concentrations. But you should choose alternative bug repellents if you have a pet, pregnant woman or newborn in your house.