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tien le

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Anna I Peña

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What kills texas leaf cutter ants

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Home > Blog >  What kills texas leaf cutter ants

Also known as town ants, cut ants, parasol ants, night ants, and fungus ants, Texas leaf-cutter ants live up to their names and are known for destroying plants, gardens, and entire crops.

When left to their own devices, Texas leaf-cutter ants will collect leaf fragments, take them to their underground nests, and use the leaves to grow fungus gardens, which they then feed on and feed to their larvae. 

These ants can be challenging to eliminate because they’re not drawn to the sugar- and oil-based baits that attract other ants. With proper planning, though, you can still get them off your property and prevent them from ruining your plants.  

Discover what kills Texas leaf-cutter ants and the best tricks for managing them below.

Texas leaf-cutter ant basics

Texas-leaf cutter ants differ from other ant species in several ways (beyond just their diets). Here are some distinguishing characteristics to remember:

  • Texas leaf-cutter ants are rust-brown or dark-brown
  • Workers from the same colony range in size from about 1/16 to 1/2-inch
  • The queen ant is about 3/4 of an inch long
  • Leaf-cutting worker ants have three pairs of prominent spines on their back (the thorax) and one pair of spines on their heads.

Another lesser-known species of leaf-cutter ant is found primarily in the western, dry parts of the state. This type, known as Acromyrmex versicolor, has over three pairs of short spines on its thorax and by a bumpy upper surface on its abdomen (the gaster).


The Texas leaf-cutter ant queen rules the colony from a series of underground chambers. Colonies can have up to four or five fertile queens that continually produce eggs.

The eggs develop into larvae (about a quarter to half an inch long), most of which go on to become sterile female worker ants.

Reproductive ants have brownish-black wings and are much larger than worker ants. The females have larger heads.

Reproductive behavior

The mating flights of reproductive Texas leaf-cutter ants typically occur on clear, moonless nights in April, May, and June.

Swarms may take place more frequently in the spring in areas with more rainfall. In dry climates, though, you can expect swarms only after heavy rain.

Texas leaf-cutter ant infestations may be the most intense during the spring and early summer. However, you may still deal with them at other times of the year, so it’s important to stay vigilant.

What kills Texas leaf-cutter ants?

When facing an infestation, it’s easy to feel that nothing could possibly kill Texas leaf-cutter ants. These hardy insects can be eliminated with a bit of research and planning, though.

The following are some of the most well-known enemies of the leaf-cutter ant:

Natural predators

Several animals naturally feed on the Texas leaf-cutter ant, including armadillos, spiders, wasps, and birds. Other types of ants, such as the army ant, also prey on the leaf-cutter ant.

Introducing natural predators can be an effective solution to eliminate some pests. However, most people don’t want to bring armadillos, spiders, or wasps into their gardens.

If you’re dealing with a Texas leaf-cutter infestation, you’re better off using other more effective and less invasive strategies.

Chemical pesticides

Several chemical pesticides on the market can be used to manage Texas leaf-cutter ants, including the following: 

  • Dust or granular insecticides (acephate, carbaryl, permethrin, etc.)
  • Hydramethylnon (the only widely available bait product explicitly meant for leaf-cutting ants)
  • Fipronil insecticide-based injection treatment (only available for professional forestry applications)

These chemical-based solutions have varying levels of effectiveness.

Dust and granular products can protect plants, but they don’t address the underground nest. They also require frequent re-application. 

Hydramethylnon can reduce colony activity over 4-6 weeks, but it typically returns 4-6 months later, meaning you’ll need to treat your property again for long-term results. Fipronil also isn’t practical since it’s only meant for forest treatment.

DIY remedies

Some people swear by DIY remedies for getting rid of Texas leaf-cutter ants. The following are some of the most popular options:

  • Hot water treatment: An effective way to address leaf-cutter ants at the source is by pouring boiling water on their nests, killing a significant number of them and preventing them from coming back. 
  • Borax: Borax is toxic to ants; sprinkling it on and around your plants may poison them. They will also carry the borax back to their colonies, where other ants will ingest it and die as well.
  • Diatomaceous earth: Diatomaceous earth or DE will scratch off the ants’ external protective covering, eventually drying it out and killing them.

These DIY strategies may be effective if you’re dealing with a relatively small infestation. For more severe issues, though, you’ll likely need to pair them with something more potent and longer-lasting. 

All-natural methods

Effective solutions for Texas leaf-cutter ants don’t have to contain toxic chemicals that may harm your pets or children. Many all-natural remedies are just as beneficial.

The following are some tried-and-true all-natural methods for dealing with leaf-cutter ants:

  • Herbs and essential oils: Herbs like thyme, cloves, cinnamon, and rosemary can deter leaf-cutter ants and drive them away from your property (and your precious plants). The same is true for essential oils like Wintergreen.
  • Bacillus thuringiensis: Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt is a type of bacteria naturally present in some soils. It produces toxic proteins that can kill leaf-cutter ants and other insects when consumed. The bacteria is not harmful to humans and other mammals because they cannot activate it.
  • Beneficial nematodes: Beneficial nematodes are tiny organisms naturally present in many soils. They parasitize insects with soil-dwelling larvae and pupae.
  • Fungal pathogens: Certain fungal pathogens can naturally eliminate leaf-cutter ants. The most well-known pathogen is called Escovopsis sp., which overpowers other fungi and destroys the ant colony.
  • Predatory mites: Predatory mites are primarily used to combat mites that feast on flowers and plants. However, they may also eat other insects and fungi, including the fungi that feed leaf-cutter ants.

All-natural options work incredibly well for those who are worried about the toxins found in conventional insecticides and those with concerns about their kids or pets coming in contact with insecticides.

How to prevent Texas leaf-cutter ants

You can reduce your chances of dealing with other ant species by keeping your home clean and cutting off food sources. However, this tactic (while still beneficial) doesn’t work for Texas leaf-cutter ants.

The best approach to managing them is to be on the lookout for warning signs and handle them as proactively as possible. 

Foraging trails

Texas leaf-cutter ants aren’t particularly tidy. They typically leave trails of leaf tissue behind as they transport it back to their nests. You might also see ants carrying leaf pieces on their backs.

Plant damage

If leaf-cutter ants have infiltrated your property, you’ll see damage to the leaves of various plants and trees. These ants work quickly, so you might go to bed one night with everything seemingly fine and then wake up to significant defoliation.


Survey your property regularly to look for leaf-cutter ant nests. These nests are marked by craters of loose soil and have many entrances. Texas leaf-cutter ants prefer to nest in sand or loamy soil.

As soon as you spot a nest, drench it with your insecticide of choice. Alternatively, you can contact a pest control company and ask them to address the nests before the infestation gets out of hand.

Bonus tip: Schedule regular maintenance treatments

Catching the warning signs of Texas leaf-cutter ants early will help you control the problem and prevent the pests from destroying your plants. However, it also helps to treat your property with maintenance treatments regularly.

Monthly treatments with all-natural pesticides can reduce the chances of leaf-cutter ants coming back. It also allows you to learn about potential infestations (of ants and other pests, for that matter) sooner, meaning you can address and eliminate them before they overtake your yard or home.

Keep in mind, too, that preventative treatments can help you save money. Paying a monthly fee for preventive pest control typically costs less than waiting until you have a full-fledged infestation on your hands.

It’s less time-consuming as well and gives you peace of mind knowing your property is protected from leaf-cutter ants and all kinds of other creatures.

Eliminate Texas leaf-cutter ants today

Don't hesitate to act if you’ve noticed signs of Texas leaf-cutter ants on your property. Get to work finding and addressing the nests with pesticides as quickly as possible.

To feel confident that you’ve found and drenched all the nests in your yard, reach out to a professional pest control company.

Pest control companies typically do not treat for leaf cutter ants as they are considered an ornamental pest.  If you are dealing with leaf cutter ants, reach out to your local lawn care company for services.  If you are dealing with other types of ants, at Natran Green Pest Control, we offer all-natural, eco-friendly, and highly effective treatment solutions to combat leaf-cutter ants and protect your property. 
Get in touch today for more information or to book an inspection.

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