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.
Best Carpenter Ant Killers Overview
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.
Want to skip all this research and just hire a decent exterminator for your carpenter ant problem?
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.
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.
Foe 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 find the nest includes leaving out something sweet near suspected ant nest. 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.
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.
Want to skip all this research and just hire a decent exterminator for your carpenter ant problem?
Maxforce is a gel that uses a bait to attract ants and spread insecticide around the colony.
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).
- Easy To Use And Apply To Holes And Cracks
- No Mess Or Lingering Odors
- Powerful Attractant
- Insecticides Spread Via Contact With Other Ants
- Expensive And Needs Regular Maintenance/Upkeep When Applied
- Ants May Avoid Or Even Develop Immunity
- The Insecticide Can Irritate Your Skin
As opposed to the Maxforce gel above, this kit comes with both granular and gel baits to target different species. 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.
- Fast Acting Results Within First Use (3 - 6 Days)
- Versatile Against Different Species Of Ants
- Easy To Use And Apply Throughout Your House
- Expensive Compared To Other Similar Baits
- Powerful Insecticide That's Harmful To Pet's And Children
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.
- No Lingering Odors
- Kills A Variety Of Ants Species
- Comes With Long Straw Applicator, Which Makes It Easy To Aim In Tight Spaces
- This Is A Short Term Contact Killer
- Ants May Detect The Aerosol And Scatter
- The Nozzle May Break Easily
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.
- Powerful Attractant And Good Long Term Solution
- Waterproof And Doesn’t Dissolve
- Long Lasting Residual Effects
- Relatively Nontoxic To Humans
- It May Not Eliminate The Whole Colony
- Needs Regular Use And Maintenance
- It May Take A Few Days To See Significant Results
The liquid baits use a sweet borax based liquid to attract carpenter ants. 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.
- Affordable And Powerful Attractant
- Residuals Effects For Up To Three Months
- Consistent Results
- Ants May Avoid It After A Few Days
- Can Be Difficult To Open And The Liquid Can Splash Out
The Bottom Line
Both of these treatments have been proven (and re-proven) to be effective carpenter ant killers assuming your infestation is outside. If your carpenter ant infestation is inside, then TERRO product is the lone winner because the ant bait is located inside a container.
The TERRO products provides for an extremely easy "plug and play" treatment option you can implement as soon as you get home from the store. The Advance Carpenter Ant Killer would require a broadcast spreader or some tool to spread the granules throughout your backyard.
Other Ant Product Reviews
Curious about other ant related products? Check out our other detailed guides to help you deal with your pest problems.