Looking for the best carpenter ant killers? Great, you're in the right place!
In this Pest Strategies guide, you'll learn:
- Our #1 rated carpenter ant killing pick out of 5 most popular reviewed
- What carpenter ants are and how to identify them
- Types of carpenter ant killers to choose from
- Some home remedies for carpenter ants
Our Overall #1 Rated Pick
(updated as of 1/9/2019)
Normally, we'd pick a TERRO product for an ant problem, but when reviewing it's hard to pass up this kit because it combines an outdoor treatment (Advance 375A) with an indoor treatment (Maxforce Gel) at a decent price.
If you're trying to take the DIY route for carpenter ant removal, this combo should set you in the right direction.
As with any pest treatment, removing the source of the problem and then applying treatments like this product usually result in the greatest success rate.
As a reminder, carpenter ants tend to infest rotten wood or old dead trees, left over stumps outside, as well as mulch. Inside your home, carpenter ants are typically found where wood has accumulated moisture from a broken pipe or other bits of poor plumbing. You'll want to fix these problems and then deploy these baits.
We also recommend consulting an exterminator to ensure your plan passes the sniff test of a professional. Click here to get free quotes from our tool.
Keep on reading to learn more about carpenter ants and the rest of the products we reviewed!
Below is a quick look at our selections for top carpenter ant killers.
More or less all the products we reviewed were very effective at killing carpenter ants, but our decision came down to versatility of the traps and their ease of use combined with what you get for your money.
The Carpenter Ant Killers We Reviewed
You need to keep your eyes open for these pests and take action with the best carpenter ant killer you can find when you first identify them. If not, it may be extremely costly in home repair further down the line.
Infestations typically start with a "home nest" in an old stump or decaying wood eventually branching off into various "satellite nets" in search for food.
And contrary to popular belief, carpenter ants don’t actually EAT wood, but rather they tunnel through it (termites DO eat wood). This tunneling can hollow out the wood used in your home creating structure issues.
I’ll just come out and say it, carpenter ants can be a homeowner’s worst nightmare.
Want to skip all this research and just hire a decent exterminator for your carpenter ant problem?
What are Carpenter Ants?
Carpenter ants are huge. They’re some of the largest ants in the US and can be up to 13 mm in length!
Most of them live outdoors in hollow wood and sometimes go indoors to nest in places with a lot of moisture. You can see them in a variety of colors based on the type of species ranging from black and brown to sometimes red and even yellow.
The Queen can live for several years and the life cycle of a worker ant is less than 12 weeks. Reproduction rates are fast and infestations can happen quickly.
These ants are especially bad because they can cause a lot of damage to your house's structure.
Places with a lot of vegetation and moisture are their preferred habitat, but it’s not uncommon to find them around the foundations of your house and patio. Sometimes they come indoors and sneak under the carpets.
How Do I Identify Carpenter Ants?
The most common feature of a carpenter is that they prefer to live in and around wood they’ve tunneled into. This is important because, unlike other species, they can actually cause significant damage if left untreated. Here is a quick comparison when compared to a termite.
The biggest sign is that they’re large and you tend to see a lot of wood shavings ("frass") near their nest. Large workers and several winged swarmers are also another sign. The latter suggest that the colony is mature and is about to reproduce. If you see this, in combination with the other characteristics, it’s time to take action. You can learn more about identifying carpenter ants here.
Some people may confuse carpenter ants with termites. The key difference is that termites eat wood whereas ants burrow through it.
How to Control Carpenter Ants
In order to know how to control carpenter ants, you first need to know what carpenter ants like to eat. If you can eliminate their preferred food source, then you can reduce the chances that these ants will decide to make your home their home.
Take a look at the below video for more carpenter ant tips.
Carpenter ants tend to have varied diets, which makes them tough to nail down with one type of trap.
For example, a known food sources that carpenter ants like to eat is aphid honeydew. This is a sweet liquid secreted by aphids living on shrubbery. Keeping bushes and shrubs at least a foot away from your home can significantly help with prevention in this area.
Curious about termite diets? Click here for our list of 15 things termites like to eat.
If you suspect that you have a carpenter ant problem, it’s important that you find the nest quickly and treat it.
Pro Tip: Nest Location
A common method to finding a carpenter nest includes leaving out something sweet near the suspected location. When left out, ants may begin a trail to it. The trail will likely lead back to a colony, where you can begin baiting more effectively.
Be careful when you find the nest as the ants bite with their large mandibles and may release a formic acid.
When you DO find the nest, baits have been documented as one of the best carpenter ant killing methods.
You also need to take preventative measures in conjunction with destroying the colony, which may include:
- Removing any moist decaying wood from around your property
- Moving stacks of wood (decayed or not) away from your property
- Inspecting nearby stumps for ant colonies
- Sealing entry ways (cracks and crevices) into your house
Types of Carpenter Ant Killers
These ants can cause serious damage to your property you don’t treat them. This means that you should quickly invest in powerful killers as soon as you identify that they’re carpenters. Some still swear by homemade methods, despite them not having much effect.Let’s take a quick look at both.
Homemade Remedies for Carpenter Ants
There are two common homemade treatments for carpenter ants.
The first uses vinegar as an acidic composition that deters ants. You should mix it with water in equal amounts. A lot of people use this, but it’s not very effective.
The second popular homemade solution uses boric acid combined with a sweet solution (jelly or honey) as an attractant has more success. The acid kills the ants on contact. This does work, but it’s a short term solution and has no effect against the majority of ants that you can’t see.
Baits and Sprays are the Best Carpenter Ant Killers
Trust me on this, you need to buy something that actually works. It may be an expensive upfront cost, but compared to the amount you would save if the infestation grew and destroyed your property.
Most baits use a slow acting insecticide (borax is one of the most popular slow acting ingredients) that can be picked up and brought back to the queen ant before killing the worker ant.
Baiting produces results because it's fed to the queen and disrupts the reproductive cycles of ants in the nest.
When you use a bait, never disturb the nest before using it. This causes the ants to scatter and it won’t kill them all, and the infestation may start again somewhere else around your house.
Another option by using a repellent aerosol around the perimeter of your house. This works best in combination with baiting to kill the colony and to stop any coming back.
Want to skip all this research and just hire a decent exterminator for your carpenter ant problem?
Carpenter Ant Product Reviews
Carpenter ants are a major type of pest, and one that you should not take lightly if you suspect that there’s an infestation. Here are five of the best carpenter ants killers that usually work in the long-term.
As opposed to the Maxforce gel above, this kit comes with both granular and gel baits to target different species with different dietary habits.
The baits use sweet and fat or protein based substances as an attractant, which is great to appeal to the variety of diets any given carpenter ant might have (because they do vary).
If you do opt for this product, you'll most likely eradicate any other ant problem you have, but it is a touch expensive.
One of the most well-known brands in ant control, TERRO delivers a quality product that gets results.
We especially liked this product due to the self-contained weather resistant bait containers that can be placed just about anywhere.
The liquid baits use a sugar based bait to attract carpenter ants and borax to provide the killing punch. The slow acting insecticide easily spreads throughout the colony and kills the ants you can and can’t see. This is one of the most effective and consistent long-term solutions on the market.
Each package comes with 6 bait traps, which you can disburse around the perimeter of your house.
Some of the traps have ramps and/or mini-stairs to help the ants travel in and out of the container.
Maxforce is a gel that uses a bait to attract ants and spread insecticide around the colony.
You can apply the gel to the cracks and holes in the walls or floor near the nest.
This also acts as a barrier to stop future ants from entering. Maxforce has been known to kill entire colonies with just 6 drops from the tube.
What I like most about this bait is that you can use it without worrying about any bad odors making it ideal for indoor use, which you tend to find with other baits.
On the downside, this bait is quite expensive and not the most pet friendly (it's sweetness attracts my dog).
TERRO aerosol is effective against carpenters and other pests that are causing you a problem both indoors and outdoors.
You need to spray it into the cracks and it kills most of those that it comes into contact with. This is fast acting and you’ll be able to kill the ants within a few minutes.
TERRO is a useful aerosol to use against a small number of carpenter ants that are in your garden or have found their way into your house. It kills them on contact and is a great short-term solution, but will not kill ants you can't see. For example, if you spray an area in your house, you might only be killing a satellite carpenter ant nest, where the original nest is still lingering elsewhere.
I recommend using this product in conjunction with their ant trap product as well as getting an exterminator consultation.
Advance Carpenter Ant Bait is a protein/fat granule bait with the active ingredient "abamectin" that’s been highly rated, relatively nontoxic, and effective at taking care of carpenter ant problems.
This product is weather resistant and well suited for outdoor use. Just apply the granules where you suspect the carpenter ants are coming from (around dead trees, wood piles, stumps, etc) and you should eventually find dead ants as a result.
Our Top Pick: Advance Carpenter Ant Killer Control Kit
For this review, our recommendation is goes to Advance Carpenter Ant Killer.
It provides a complete indoor (gel bait) and outdoor (granule bait) solution in one conveniant kit.
Other products, like the TERRO Liquid Bait, are very good, and we do recommend you buy them as well as they are sugar based baits. Ants do have varying diet preferences, so it would benefit you to try multiple bait types to see which are preferred by YOUR infestation.
Of course, you need the extra budget to buy additional baits, which is why we selected the control kit as it is the most complete solution.
As a reminder, we do always recommend you consult a licensed exterminator before taking things into your own hands, especially for carpenter ant removal as taking the wrong steps could always make your problem worse! Click here for our tool to help match you up with someone.
For more information on ant removal check out the below guides. Any questions, leave a comment down below.
Other Ant Product Reviews
Curious about other ant related products? Check out our other detailed guides to help you deal with your pest problems.