In this article, we discuss and show you the best carpenter ant killers available in 2020, to hep you get rid of carpenter ants for good..
Of all the problems homeowners can face, structural wood damage is probably one of the most expensive, and often unexpected.
Wood destroying insects such as termites are infamous for causing damage. But many aren’t aware that ants can cause just as much damage if undetected.
Although there are thousands of ant species in the world, they can all be divided into one of two categories. The first group is annoying, pesky, and unsightly, but ultimately harmless.
The second kind is a dangerous and destructive type. Ants like the fire ants and bullet ants can bite and harm you. And large ants such as the carpenter ant are uber destructive.
In the warm seasons such as spring and summer, they will be very active in preparation for the mating season. And in the process, they will happily destroy your home from the inside out.
But hope is not lost, dear reader, because this situation can be avoided if you know what to look for.
Below, we will tell you how to identify the carpenter ant and confirm they have invaded, before telling you the best ways of getting rid of them.
So, let’s carve out the details and get straight into it.
What You'll Learn
- 1 Are You Sure You Have Carpenter Ants?
- 2 The Nuisance Carpenter Ants Can Cause
- 3 Types of Carpenter Ant Killers
- 4 Homemade Remedies for Carpenter Ants
- 5 What to Consider When Choosing a Carpenter Ant Killer?
- 6 Best Carpenter Ant Killer Reviews
- 7 Conclusion
Are You Sure You Have Carpenter Ants?
Carpenter ants are so-called because they have an affinity for wood, especially damp wood.
They are most commonly found in woodland, where there is plenty of wet decaying wood. And they burrow into it, carving out networks of tunnels and galleries in which to live and reproduce.
When looking at them in direct light, they are reddish-brown in color but can appear black. They sometimes appear as a mix of black and orange in certain lights.
As one of the larger species of ant, they can grow up to an inch in length, with, of course, the standard six-leg setup.
The most significant difference between the carpenter ant and most other ants is their large heads and pronounced mandible, also known as pincer jaws to most. The thorax segment of the body below the head is also rounded, not flat like some other ants.
The carpenter ant is common all over America in differing climates and humidity. The only difference is the size, as they are slightly smaller in colder areas.
The Nuisance Carpenter Ants Can Cause
Carpenter ants might not eat wood as a termite does, but they burrow into it to make nests and are more than capable of causing thousands of dollars of damage.
The signs of carpenter ant infestation are often hidden under floorboards and inside walls meaning that you can’t see it. And it’s only when severe damage has already been done that we usually realize.
Carpenter ants can live happily outdoors in their natural habitat. Or inside, warm and snug inside your walls and helping themselves to your food and water.
With each colony containing upwards of 3,000 ants, it’s no surprise they decide to branch out when things get a bit busy. During the mating season, the females will leave to create satellite colonies, making themselves the new queen.
If you have an outside colony nearby, your home will offer everything she needs for her new living space. She will then set about laying eggs and hatching larvae that she feeds herself until they are self-sufficient.
At this point, they become the worker ants who forage for the greater good of the colony. The colony then expands until it reaches capacity, and the story repeats.
Which is why they must be dealt with as promptly as possible.
Once inside the home, they will keep multiplying until your house is overrun and destroyed.
Contrary to popular belief, they do not eat the wood; they merely destroy it. This is caused by their tunneling activities, which is why they leave piles of sawdust everywhere known as ‘frass.’
We like frass, because it is a warning sign that carpenter ants are near. And it should not be ignored.
On top of the structural damage they cause, they also spread bacteria and can be a noise nuisance as well. As their numbers increase, you will start to hear rustling in the walls. And because they become active at sundown, it will sound like your walls are alive at night.
An easy way to see where they are active is to return to the areas where they left sawdust, under cover of darkness. With a flashlight, you will be able to see them as they forage around the house. You can then track them back to the nest and take decisive action.
Types of Carpenter Ant Killers
Like all ants, carpenter ants use scout ants, or workers as they are commonly known, to find food, and then lead the others to it.
The pheromone trails they leave will mean the workers will go back and forth until the food source is depleted.
So, if you have spotted a few stray carpenters, chances are they will be workers. So, stomping on them or using a kill on contact spray straight away will only resolve the issue for a few hours.
Here are the options available to you to tackle and eradicate them as quickly as possible:
Ant bait gels are sticky, syrup-like gels with active ingredients designed to kill the ants with delayed or slow-release action.
In the sticky gel form, you can apply them literally anywhere that you see ants – floors, cupboards, walls, and even ceilings. Because it is sticky, it will stay where you apply it.
With the slow release action, they are designed to be eaten, shared, and spread around by the ants. That way, it will make its way back to the colony, where it will be fed to both the queen and her larvae, eradicating the entire colony.
Granular bait is designed to work in much the same way as a gel or liquid bait. The active ingredient will be slow-release, designed to kill the whole colony.
The difference is that some ant types are more tempted by dry bait than wet. It also makes less mess, and it is easier to clean up than a wet bait.
Instant Kill Sprays
A typical off the shelf ant spray is designed to kill on contact and possibly deter ants from returning to the same area. This will give instant relief if you find a few rogue ants in your pantry but will do little to get rid of a carpenter ant infestation.
Usually, in an aerosol or hand-pumped spray, it will be a liquid ant killer mixture containing a poison that will kill the ants instantly when you spray them.
Bait stations are exactly what they sound like – a food station for ants that contain poisoned bait. Designed to destroy ants and their nests, they contain a bait recipe that replicates food, and is highly attractive to ants.
Again, the bait is collected by the ‘workers’ and is then taken back to the nest for the other ants to consume, including the queen.
All of these product types can be the weapon of choice in your battle against ants. It is recommended that once you’ve worked out where the colony is, you use a mixture of bait (either in a station or not) alongside a spray.
The bait will slowly and eventually eradicate the colony. In the meantime, you can clear rooms of the rogue ant trails by attacking them with a kill on contact spray, minimizing how much of your house they terrorize.
Homemade Remedies for Carpenter Ants
Nowadays, with climate change and environmental damage playing on people’s conscience, many of us are looking for alternatives to the harsher chemicals and pesticides on offer.
While historically, they’ve worked wonders for many, today’s reality is that homemade remedies and climate-friendly products can be just as effective without the guilt.
The following are a few of the homemade remedies that have stood the test of time and still prove effective against ants when applied at the correct dose in a proven recipe.
This is a great outdoor solution for an ant’s nest that allows you to go straight to the source of the problem. Simply boil a few liters of water and then pour it all over the nest.
You may have to repeat this process a few times to destroy the nest, but seeing as it’s free and easy, what have you got to lose?
This home staple appears to have no end of applications, baking, cleaning, and now ant annihilation. Baking powder has long been a natural and straightforward ant bait that can be mixed up in an instant. Just add equal parts baking powder to sugar and place it in the path of ant trails.
The sugar in the mixture attracts the ants, while the baking soda naturally kills them. This isn’t always effective for carpenter ants as they seek a predominately protein-based diet.
Carpenter ants usually emerge from hiding in the spring as it gets warmer. They go hunting for protein-rich foods to nourish the colony with slow-release energy.
But when they are in their reproductive phase, they will eat sugar for quick-release energy. So baking powder will work then.
All ants are scent-led creatures and use pheromone trails for both communicating and navigation in the hunt for food and water. Pungent essential oils can disrupt their sensory receptors that control these functions.
Once disrupted, the ant can become confused and disoriented. Meaning they will learn to avoid that area and forage elsewhere.
The most effective oils are typically cedarwood oil, lemongrass, peppermint, rosemary, and orange. Readymade sprays that use essential oils can be bought or easily mixed in the home with just a few ingredients.
Once mixed, you simply drip it onto kitchen towels or cotton pads and wipe them over the problem areas such as baseboards, countertops, and windowsills.
What to Consider When Choosing a Carpenter Ant Killer?
Here are the primary considerations when deciding on a killer for carpenter ants.
Indoors or Outdoors Use?
Some of the products available are specifically designed for indoor use. Generally, because they deteriorate quickly when exposed to the elements.
Dry bait granules, for instance, will quickly lose their attractant qualities and go moldy if left to get wet.
Ant traps, on the other hand, with their neatly designed food station, are typically suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. They enclose the bait giving it an element of weatherproofing.
As touched on before, sweet recipe baits attract the most ants typically because the calories and quick release energy are ideal for sustaining both the worker and the larvae they feed.
Stand-alone gels and pastes are also predominantly used indoors, although inside porches and under canopies can be a suitable location externally. They can also be smeared next to or into cracks and crevices that ants use to enter your property.
That way, if they find the food before they enter the property, they are unlikely to travel further into your home.
Kill on contact ant sprays work well on the inside as the enclosed nature means less is lost to the wind. That being said, they are still useful when used in close contact outside.
Some sprays are also designed to act as a repellent, and they are usually for both indoor and outdoor use. They will need to be sprayed around the perimeter of the property and into any cracks they can use.
Must it be Pet and Kid-Friendly?
If you have kids and fur babies, the natural ingredient based products, along with enclosed tamper-proof traps, are the safest option for your family.
You can also buy universal ant traps that come empty and let you choose what bait goes inside.
A lot of pet-friendly products are FDA (US Food & Drug Administration) certified as organic and non-toxic, which will give you peace of mind when using it in the home.
The universal traps will allow you to mix your own natural ant bait recipes and refill them as needed. This is a sure-fire way to make sure there are no nasty chemicals around for the kids and pets to come across.
Best Carpenter Ant Killer Reviews
In no particular order, here are our top picks for best carpenter ant killer.
Bayer Maxforce Carpenter Gel 27g Ant Insecticide
Bayer’s Maxforce gel bait uses fipronil as its active ingredient. It is a slow-working insecticide that acts on their central nervous system, causing paralysis and death.
It is designed to mimic the scent of honeydew, which is the sugar-rich sticky liquid secreted by aphids. It is highly attractive to carpenter ants.
The Maxforce slow-release bait creates a domino effect that kills the ant that first eats it and, in turn, the larvae and the queen that it goes on to feed. Meaning it destroys both the ants you see and the hidden and inaccessible colonies.
It comes in a 27g tube that can be distributed in spots along any known ant trail or beside the colony for them to find and eat.
With its easy syringe and plunger design, the gel is easily applied in nooks and crannies that other bait stations would not be able to reach. You can spot, smear or squirt it wherever you want.
So, if you have carpenter ants inside your walls, you can drill holes and apply it to the inside of a cavity wall. Coupling this with a good dusting of ant killer or diatomaceous earth will give you the best chance of getting rid of them for good.
- Easy to use
- Wide range of applications
- Attractive recipe
- Uses fipronil which is very effective
- Makes a mess
- Not weatherproof for outdoor use
BASF Advance Carpenter Ant Bait
BASF carpenter ant bait is a dry granular style bait. The large grit size is more effective for large ants like the carpenter ant, and it is made of a blend of ant attractants and an active insecticide.
The active ingredient is abamectin-b that is designed to react with, and compromise, the ant’s central nervous system. Once ingested, it penetrates the brain synapse that controls neural and neuromuscular transmissions and destroys it.
This creates a compromised nervous system, causing paralysis and death in a slow-release format.
Eliminating the worker ants over time halts egg production in the colony, which in turn weakens the strength of the entire colony leading to its collapse.
Although their primary source of protein is other insects, your home offers many protein alternatives on tap. From pet food crumbs, mealtime debris around the bin, and the dishwasher, to the many foods in your cupboards.
Unlike most ant baits, this granular recipe is protein-based, not sugar-based. This makes it a desirable proposition for carpenter ants who have a high protein intake.
This product is formulated with the carpenter ant in mind, so you know it is going to be effective.
It is an excellent addition to your ant bait arsenal. And when they are on the rampage for protein, you have some readily available.
- Formulated for carpenter ants
- Easy to sweep up
- Targets the colony
- Not suitable for all ant types
- Slow acting
Terro Carpenter Ant and Termite Killer
TERRO has long been a trusted name in pest control. Their research and design process makes their products very useful and popular with many homeowners. They offer a variety of ant killing products, including liquid ant killer, aerosol sprays, perimeter treatments, and bait stations.
The TERRO carpenter ant and termite killer aerosol spray comes with a precision point and shoot design making it easy to use, and one of the best ways to instantly get rid of carpenter ants you can see, as part of a wider solution.
The spray is for both indoor and outdoor use as it has a two-way spray nozzle allowing you to choose between a coarse spray or a narrow jet for crack-and-crevice application.
This means any nests inside your wall can be treated with the spray, which will give a wider arc of coverage when applied through a pre-drilled hole into the cavity.
With its quick kill on contact formula, it will remove all visible ants rapidly while also leaving a residual barrier to prevent the return of further ants.
The active ingredients are a mix of tetramethrin and permethrin. Both of these are synthetic insecticides of the pyrethroid family that affect the insect’s nervous system.
The spray is also non-staining and has no unpleasant odors. This means that you can spray it around the home without fear of staining carpets and furniture. And it won’t put the rooms out of action with a strong chemical odor either.
- Fast acting
- Dual action nozzle makes application easy
- Repels as well as kills
- Odorless and stain-free formula
- Does not kill the colony
- Not pet safe
Advance Granular Carpenter Ant Bait
Advance granular carpenter ant bait has the active ingredient abamectin-b that is designed for the carpenter ant’s central nervous system. By causing paralysis, the worker ants cannot gather food and will die cutting off the food supply to the colony.
It is made specifically to attract ants using a recipe that will be too tasty to resist. And coupled with the larger grit size, it means large ants like the carpenter will be encouraged to carry it back to the colony for the other ants to eat.
The slow-release poison then eliminates the majority of workers, stopping reproduction, and destroying the nest.
Because it is designed to be effective on carpenter ants, this bait is protein-based. This appeals to the early lifecycle stage of the carpenter when they are foraging for protein to take back to the queen and larvae.
It isn’t just carpenter ants that like protein-rich foods. Most ants, even the common sugar ant, will, at certain life stages, seek out protein-rich foodstuffs.
So, it is always a good idea to keep some of this product on hand should the ants start to ignore the sweet gel baits you have tried.
- Formulated for carpenter ants
- No sticky residue
- Destroys the colony
- Not suitable for all ant types
- Slow acting
Syngenta Optigard Ant Bait Gel Box
- Target pests: For indoor and outdoor control of structure-invading ants including argentine ants, carpenter ants, and ghost ants and other nuisance ant pests; excluding fire, harvester and pharaoh ants.
- Highly attractive formula promotes ready transfer of the active ingredient throughout the colony
- Powerful, active ingredient knocks out workers, brood and queens
- Approved for use indoors and outdoors, applied in cracks and crevices. Active Ingredient: Thiamethoxam, .010%.
- How does Optigard Ant Bait Gel work? Ants that feed on the gel will return to their nest and transfer the bait to the queen and their young, thereby killing the queen, the young and the entire colony.
Syngenta Optigard is a highly attractive ant bait gel formulated to promote the transfer of the active ingredient thiamethoxam throughout the colony
Thiamethoxam is an insecticide from the neonicotinoid’s family. It works on many insects, including carpenter ants, by disrupting the information transfer between nerve cells.
Here comes the science…
It does this by interfering with nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in their central nervous system. Which leads to the paralysis of muscles and then death.
Ants can absorb it via the stomach after eating or through direct contact, including through its tracheal system.
The gel is formulated to be transparent to make it more attractive to ants, and the consistency makes it easier for them to eat. It is also weatherproof, unlike some other gels. Meaning it will still be an ant attractant up to 14 days after it is placed, both indoors and out.
The formula resists decay and mold caused by high temperatures and moisture. It will continue to be effective long after other baits have stopped working.
The ants will continue to feed on it even after it dries out because the active ingredient then becomes concentrated.
The gel is labeled as non-staining due to its colorless formulation, which means there is no risk of staining floors and worktops with it. It also has a very subtle odor to prevent avoidance by the ants.
Syngenta Optigard comes packaged in a ready-to-use, 30g syringe plunger for ease of use.
- Ant attractant recipe
- Thiamethoxam is very effective
- Easy to use syringe applicator
- Can be challenging to clean
- Not pet safe
So, now you know all the reasons carpenter ants could be your worst nightmare as a homeowner. Identifying and dealing with these pesky critters is an absolute must, and time is of the essence.
Unless, of course, you like hefty repair bills, or you’re already looking for a complete structural rebuild.
Infestations typically start outside when the central nest reaches capacity, so having a keen eye for ants in the yard is your first line of defense. Second to that is your arsenal of baits and ant killer sprays.
So, stock up on one of the best carpenter ant killers from this guide, and be ready for them when they come.
Have you had a carpenter ant infestation? Did you treat it yourself, or did you get a professional in? What are your experiences of these products, and are there any others you would recommend or avoid? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll join you for a conflab.