Does Ant Chalk Really Work?

thai-ant-chalkDoes ant chalk work? I decided to find out by holding a couple of basic experiments in our Thai village garden to see if the Chinese made, ‘Miraculous Insecticide Chalk’, would get right up an ant’s nose and send it packing to pastures new.

Ants can be a real pest (pun or no pun. Up2You) at the best of times, roll out a scorching Thai summer’s day, and ants are an absolute nuisance. They are known as social insects, but ‘annoying buggers’ would be a far better term. Ant chalk deters or kills them.

Ant chalk is used in Thai villages (towns and cities too) to thwart the onwards and upwards march of ants. Village shops sell it and use it as well – that’s a definite thumbs-up for the product. The chalk’s used to circle around shop table legs which have sweets and cooked meat above. The theory is the ants won’t cross the chalk line.  China’s ‘Miraculous Insecticide Chalk’ stops ants from scaling the table legs and masticating on the displayed food. Reread it. It says masticating.

Ant Chalk – The Big Test – Sweet Piccalilli

ant chalk test

The first test wasn’t a significant success. I’d put down a teaspoon of Papa Farang’s delicious sweet piccalilli, but the ants didn’t take the bait. The piccalilli attracted some interest but not too much. I decided to try again but this time using ant chalk.


I cleared the ants away with a few Subbuteo style flicks and drew a straight chalk line around the sweet piccalilli – that’s a difficult word to spell (piccalilli) but a straightforward one to type. I’d return 15 minutes later. Would the sweet piccalilli be swarming with ants, or would it be as I’d left it?


The picture isn’t too clarion because I got my big head in the shot, but there’s a bonus to that. If anyone Google’s the words – Big Head + Masticate –  they should land on this page. So did the test prove ant chalk works?

By the time I returned, the sweet piccalilli had dried out in the blazing sun, but no ants were feasting on it and no live ones in the square – just two dead ants. The ant chalk is toxic and banned from most Western nations but still widely available in countries like America via the internet and Chinatown markets.

A few ants were patrolling the area to the left of the chalk square but none attempting to cross the line. The experiment seemed to prove ant chalk worked, but I needed further proof and decided to rerun the chalk test with some savoury cheese biscuits. The area around our garden table had a small army of ants ‘socializing’ and searching for food. It was the ideal spot for the test. Our Shih-Tzu dog, Tang Moo, decided to join in as well.

The Ant Chalk Test – Take-Two – Cheese Biscuits


Tang Moo was keen to get started and even more so to check if the savoury cheese biscuits were satisfactory or a garden-variety, run of the mill snack.


I placed two cheese biscuits inside a chalked square and one outside near the top right corner. Within seconds ants had swarmed all over the single cookie and were feasting like crazy on it.


The biscuits did attract some ants to scurry inside the chalk box but only about a half-dozen. In the right corner of the photograph, you can just make out the single biscuit being partied-on. So what was my conclusion?

I believe ant chalk does work, not 100%, but if drawn around table legs, any ants that crossed the line would either be dead or on their last legs before they reached the tabletop. Also, the ant chalk tests proved, Shih-Tzu’s love cheese savoury biscuits, ants do have jungle drums, and at least six ants out of every ant colony are deaf.

Have you ever used ant chalk, and if so, did it work for you?

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I'm a sixty-year-old Englishman living in the town of Swindon in rural Wiltshire and I have a real deep desire to retire in Thailand one day. If you don't have a dream then you won't have a dream come true.

13 Responses

  1. Mike says:

    Ah the loveable Thai มด “mot” (another word not for tinkering on Google with).

    I bought some flea/tick powder for the cat, works better on ants! The circle trick works great. Mind you it is local tick powder so its probably made from the Chinese “chalk” anyway!

  2. Martyn says:

    Hi Mike – The Chinese ant chalk does work but it’s best not to lick your fingers after using it. The chalk gets some ‘toxic’ write-ups on the internet. I wouldn’t apply any to a pussy… sorry, cat.

  3. Ray Taylor says:

    Hi Mike, I live outside Phimai near Nakhon Ratchasima, I’m just on a UK home visit now.
    Yes,,,, it sure does work, and at a fraction of the price of the other types of ant powder. My wife turns it into powder by rubbing on one of my rasps (wood files) whenever she sees a new ant colony appear outside the house. Obviously you can’t just draw on the soil /dirt. Within half an hour there are NO live ants to be seen anywhere near the chalk. The obvious advantage of the chalk stick is that you can draw onto walls, anywhere you see them climbing in convoy.
    I didn’t realise it was banned from many countries as you said, so I must check up on the net to find out how dangerous it really is !!
    Thanks for an interesting post.
    Regards Ray.

  4. Martyn says:

    Ray – Thanks for the read and comment. If you follow the link in the post it points to an article about the toxic content of the Chinese chalk sticks. They’re not the kind of chalk to give a kid to play with.

    With the present weather in the UK you may need to unpack your rasp.

  5. Ray Taylor says:

    Hi Mike, Thanks for your reply.
    Very sorry I didn’t realise there was a link waiting under the RED “ant chalk is toxic”
    I know my wife is unaware that it is dangerous, but then again some of the chemicals that get spayed onto our crops by the workers, whose only protection is an old tee shirt covering their faces, is very scary.
    Now I’ve read that link, it all makes sense. I guess I’m not as clued up on the computer as I thought I was.
    Many thanks again. Regards Ray.

  6. Martyn says:

    Ray – It’s quite a frightening read isn’t it. At least you are now aware of the dangers associated with the chalk. I’m glad to be of some help.

  7. Mike says:

    Hi Ray

    I think you have Martyn and me mixed up. I am just a commenter, Martyn runs “the Juice.”

  8. Martyn says:

    Mike – I saw the mix up, was going to edit it but decided ‘it is what it is’.

  9. Peter M says:

    Hello Martyn and Mike,

    Since the death of Google Reader last year my contact with all my old blog favourites has diminished, hence my relative unawareness of your continued activity in the blogging world. I use Feedly but it does not work at my workplace. Do you have favourite feed aggregators?

    Sorry Martyn for this hijack of the ants thread. Just train Tang Moo to lick up the ants with his tongue.

  10. Martyn says:

    Peter – I use email subscription for the blogs I follow and for those I read from time to time I simply bookmark them and drop in whenever.

    The Juice is still active and hopefully will be so for a few more years yet. Hits are now on the up after its mauling at the paws of Google Panda. It was a totally unprovoked attack as well.

  11. Darren C says:

    Did a few experiments myself with just a stick of plain writing chalk, it’s obviously not going to kill them but they certainly don’t like to cross it. I’m a bit wary of using the ant chalk and other such pesticides for fear of ghekko’s being poisoned.

    I prefer to use an ant poison that goes by the name of ARS, it comes with a plastic container which the ants can enter but nothing else can. I’ve used them quite a lot and they are pretty effective.

  12. Martyn says:

    Darren C – The Chinese chalk is toxic and probably best avoided if you have children or pets. Ghekko’s being poisoned?

  13. Darren C says:

    Probably no need to worry about Ghekko’s, but like you say it’s toxic, and I’m rather fond of Gkekko’s.

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