Does Vacuuming Ants Kill Them?

Does Vacuuming Ants Kill Them

Have you ever been a little lazy and just tried to suck up ants or other bugs? One day, as another insect disappeared into the vacuum, I thought, “Does vacuuming ants kill them?”

Highly reputable websites recommend vacuuming ants to kill them. A Brazil spider test study proves that they will die, with certain caveats.

Do you want to kill ants (, or simply remove the these insects without killing them? Do you own a shop vacuum with a flexible corrugated tube and a crevice tool? If you want to remove the ants but not kill them? Do you own a humane pest control device?

Vacuuming IS Recommended, Especially for Carpenter Ants

Bug experts (entomologists) recommend eliminating carpenter ants by sucking them up with a regular home appliance. Carpenter ants are large, often a half-inch long, and black. If you’re squeamish, seeing a carpenter ant might make you grab the vacuum. Please note that when searching for these bugs, you may also encounter a carpet beetle and may wonder if it bites. We will talk about that in another post.

The Washington State Department of Ecology suggests that a useful and non-toxic method of removing carpenter ants is with an appliance. By using a shop appliance with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter, the user will not suffer allergic reactions from insect particles.

The Oregon State University Entomology Department goes one step further. In their website of recommendations to schools, they state that in order to make sure the insects die after getting sucked into a vacuum, also use it to suck up a tablespoon of cornstarch, which suffocates the insects.

As pointed out by the Nebraska Extension Service, by using a regular home appliance to kill these insects, often an entire colony can be eliminated. Not only that, but a vacuum means that no harmful insecticides are dispersed into the air in order to eliminate the insects that are invading your premises.

Brazil Vacuum Experiment Results

Eduardo Ramires at Tuiuti University of Paraná in Brazil, along with four other scientists, studied whether vacuuming killed a venomous brown spider and published their experiment online. They were particularly interested in the mortality of vacuumed insects.

Besides spiders, other insects, including ants, were sucked in the device and checked to determine death. The experiment included shop vacuums with and without bags, with crevice tools and corrugated tubes, with plastic plates inside the device, and with the addition of dust and cornstarch.

Throughout all of the vacuuming variables, most insects survived. Complete death occurred when a corrugated flexible tube, a crevice tool, or a soft vacuuming tube was added to the device intake. Vacuums without these tools were not effective and resulted in live insects.

This experiment found that insects sucked up without corrugated flexible tubes, soft tubes, or crevice tools usually survived. They also discovered that by first sucking up dust or cornstarch and then using it on the insects, most of the bugs did not die.

You Need a Shop Vacuum with a Hose, or a Humane Vacuum

So, if you want to effectively kill these bugs, the standup household appliance won’t be as good as the loud shop appliance with a flexible plastic corrugated hose. The Shop-Vac 5-Gallon 4.5 Peak HP Stainless Steel Wet Dry Vacuum is a perfect tool for your ant-killing expeditions.

When you add the flexible corrugated hose and the crevice tool that comes with this $65 vacuum, you have everything you need to not only vacuum up ants, but to ensure that they die. As shown in this short YouTube video, a carpenter ant is no match to a good shop vacuum.

For the kind-hearted people who simply want to remove ants without killing them, a better choice is the Pest Control, Sokos Humane Insects and Bug Catcher Vacuum. Collected into a tube using a lighter suction, the insects aren’t harmed and can be released outside.


Vacuuming ants kills them, as long as you use the right equipment. This can definitely help get rid of ants in your home. For a complete kill do the following:

For a complete kill do the following:

  • Get a good shop vacuum, such as the Shop-Vac 5-Gallon 4.5 Peak HP Stainless Steel Wet Dry Vacuum.
  • For an effective ant-killing machine, make sure to add on the flexible corrugated hose.
  • As a final touch, add the crevice tool on the end of the hose.
  • Leave the cornstarch in the kitchen. It isn’t necessary to kill ants that are sucked into your shop vacuum.

If killing the insects is too hard with a standard old vacuum, try the Pest Control, Sokos Humane Insects and Bug Catcher Vacuum.

There are other methods too that are proven to be effective; the baking soda ant killer ( or you could use bleach to kill ants, you can learn it right here.

For more pest removal tips, tricks and hacks, start at our homepage.