Have you ever visited a park and saw huge ants crawling near trees and benches? Then you’ve had the pleasure of meeting the humble carpenter ant. It’s normal to find these wood-loving insects at parks and other natural areas, but if you find them near or in your home, you may have a big problem.
Don’t panic – carpenter ants aren’t as destructive as termites. And it’s possible to get rid of them with the right bait and a little patience.
We’re going to answer your most pressing questions about this unique ant species, and we’ll also share the best carpenter ant killers to help you tackle your problem.
NOTE: TOP PICK AND TABLE OF CONTENTS TO BE ADDED HERE.
Table of Contents
- 8 Best Carpenter Ant Killer Products
- 1. Bayer Maxforce Carpenter Gel
- 2. Terro Carpenter Ant & Termite Killer
- 3. Terro T600 Ant Dust
- 4. BSF Advance Granular Carpenter Ant Bait
- 5. DuPont Advion Gel Bait
- 6. Bonide Termite & Carpenter Ant Killer
- 7. Spectracide Terminate for Termites and Carpenter Ants
- 8. Bonide 569 Concentrate
- FAQs About Carpenter Ant Killer
OUR TOP PICK
Bayer Maxforce Carpenter Gel
Bayer’s Maxforce gel is one of the most effective on the market. Ants are highly attracted to the scent and taste of this gel. They’ll take it back to their nests, where other worker ants and the queen will eat it and die.
- Ready to use
- Easy-to-apply gel that reaches into corners and crevices
- Indoor/Outdoor use
8 Best Carpenter Ant Killer Products
Bayer’s Maxforce Carpenter Gel is largely considered the best carpenter ant bait on the market. This product targets a wide variety of ant species, including carpenter, big-headed, Argentine, acrobat, odorous, honey and pharaoh.
The active ingredient in this gel is Fipronil (0.001%). Fipronil works through ingestion and contact, so ants are killed after eating or even coming in contact with the gel.
One 27-gram tube gives you enough bait to treat 27 different spots. Bayer recommends applying 1 gram per spot. You may not need to use the whole tube to get rid of your carpenter ants, but that’s okay. This product has a 3-4-year shelf-life, so you can save any remaining bait for future infestations (if you have them).
Many users say that this bait is really strong. You only need a few drops to tackle a colony. But the ants are apparently very attracted to this bait, so you shouldn’t have a problem getting them to take it.
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Like any other ant bait or trap product, you want to keep this gel away from kids and pets. Maybe apply the gel along a corner or windowsill that’s hard to reach or doesn’t get much foot traffic.
- Really attractive to carpenter ants
- Long shelf-life
- Targets a variety of ant species
- Must be applied directly to a surface – no traps
- Toxic to pets and children
Terro is a well-known and respected brand in the pest control industry. Their carpenter ant spray foam is both effective and easy to use. It works with other wood-loving pests, too, like termites, wood wasps and even carpenter bees.
The foam kills on contact, and it will continue killing for up to a month. The main active ingredient in this product is deltamethrin.
The great thing about a spray product is that you can treat hard-to-reach places in crevices and corners where pests love to hide. Terro includes a convenient nozzle, so you can control the spray.
If you’re worried about stains or smells, don’t be. This spray is both odorless and non-staining. It works both indoors and outdoors, so you can use this product wherever it’s needed.
If you prefer not to have a gel or bait laying around, a spray may be the better option for you.
- Easy to apply
- Nozzle allows for controlled application
- Effective against many different types of wood-loving insects
- Odorless and non-staining
- Continues working for 1 month
- Ants won’t take it back to the nest (contact killer)
If you’re looking for long-term treatment, Terro T600 Ant Dust may be a good option for you. The easy-to-apply dust continues working for up to eight months, and it’s waterproof. It won’t just wash away after the first summer rain storm like some other ant dust products.
Like the previous Terro product, the T600 Ant Dust uses deltamethrin to kill the ants.
The T600 dust kills on contact and works on a variety of ant species and other insects, including fire ants, cockroaches and spiders. But most importantly, it kills carpenter ants. It may take three to four days for complete control, but that’s a small price to pay for to get rid of the ants for good.
One thing we love about this product is that it’s so easy to use. It comes in a convenient shaker that allows for both scatter and widespread application. You can use the dust indoors or outdoors. It’s easy to get the powder into corners and crevices where ants may be hiding.
Terro recommends using 0.5lbs of product per 1,000 square feet of space. The dust will start working immediately – and you’ll be able to see it working.
- Kills on contact
- Provides eight months of ant control
- Easy to apply, especially in small cracks and crevices
- Works indoors or outdoors
- The rain sometimes interferes with the effectiveness of the poison
BSF Advance’s Granular Carpenter Ant Bait targets carpenter ants and several other ant species, including acrobat, Argentine, odorous house, little black, pavement, crazy, fire, harvester and more.
The active ingredient in this carpenter ant trap is Abamectin B1. It works by interfering with the ant’s neuromuscular and neural transmission. The insecticide works on a particular type of synapse that is located only in the brain and is protected by the brain-blood barrier.
The large grit size of these granules is attractive to carpenter ants, and it contains a proprietary blend of attractants. This bait is ideal if you need protein/fat to attract the ants.
These granules have a long shelf life, so you can keep this product on hand for future use if needed.
Unlike most of the other ant killers on our list, this one will kill the entire colony from the inside out. The ants will carry the granules back to their nests, where they’ll share it with other worker ants and the queen.
- Granules are easy to apply
- Starts working right away
- Kills the colony (ants take the bait back home)
- Works on multiple species of ants
- Toxic to humans and pets
DuPont’s Advion Gel Bait comes in a convenient plunger, and is easy to apply to ant trails or entryways. The company says its product is better than Maxforce and Terro, but users might disagree. That’s not to say that this bait is not effective, but it uses a different active ingredient:
- Indoxacarb (0.5%)
Ideal for indoor use, Advion gel bait can be applied to cracks, crevices, floorboards, windowsills, behind appliances and other hard-to-reach places that carpenter ants love to hide. This product also works well in bathrooms.
While not as fast-acting as a spray or foam, this product will kill the entire colony. The worker ants will eat the bait and take some back to the nest to share with the others – and the queen. It takes a few days (or up to a week) for the entire colony to collapse, but you won’t have to worry about the ants returning.
- Plunger allows for controlled application
- Kills the entire colony
- Works on a variety of ant species
- Has a mildly offensive smell
- Not ideal for outdoor use (the bait is water soluble)
Want a spray that kills on contact, but will also offer residual ant control? Bonide’s Termite & Carpenter Ant Killer spray comes in a ready-to-use bottle, and offers up to 4 months of ant control.
The spray contains deltamethrin (0.2%), which is 10 times more active than permethrin.
Unlike other insect sprays, this one has a pleasant smell, and the non-mixing formula takes the guesswork out of ant control. You can use this spray indoors or outdoors – wherever there’s ant activity.
The spray kills on contact, and will continue killing the ants when they return.
If you want an ant killer that’s easy to apply, this product may be what you’re looking for. But it’s important to remember that the spray is toxic to people and pets. Be careful about where you spray because this product doesn’t have a controlled nozzle like the others.
- Kills on contact and offers residual control
- Insecticide is 10 times more active than permethrin
- Easy-to-use spray bottle
- No mixing involved
- Less control over where the spray goes
Spectracide’s Terminate is designed for serious carpenter ant invasions. The included extendable wand allows for more precise application and continuous spraying.
The active ingredient in this spray is lambda-cyhalothrin (0.03%).
The spray kills on contact, and will also kill termites and carpenter bees. One application will give you up to nine months of control when used indoors. When used indoors, the spray can be applied to cracks and crevices in walls, behind baseboards and underneath appliances. Outdoors, the spray is ideal for use around decks, foundations, porches and fences.
The clear formula is non-staining and odorless, so it can be applied near wooden fences and decks without fear.
The only real downside to using this product is that the applicator requires batteries (4 AAs). If your batteries run out of juice, you’ll need to replace them or you’re out of luck. With that said, the spray applicator is a nice convenient way to treat your ant problem.
- Kills on contact
- Continues working for up to nine months
- Odorless and non-staining
- Sprayer gun allows for quick, controlled application
- Sprayer gun is battery-powered
Bonide’s 569 Concentrate is a bit more complex than other carpenter ant killers we’ve reviewed. This isn’t a ready-to-use product. You’ll need to mix with water to your desired dilution before applying. You’ll also need to supply your own sprayer or spray bottle.
But there’s an upside to these extra steps: the product offers long-lasting protection.
The 32 ounces of concentrate targets carpenter ants, termites and other ant species. The key active ingredient is permethrin (13.3%). Keep in mind that this is a concentrate that needs to be mixed with water, so the percentage of insecticide is much higher.
Do not skip the step of diluting this product with water.
One bottle makes 6 gallons of finished product, and the trenching residual can last up to five years if the soil is left undisturbed.
While a bit more complicated than other products we’ve reviewed, this one provides the longest lasting control. Imagine not having to worry about carpenter ants for the next five years. This product may be able to save you a lot of time and money, especially if ants are a continual problem in your home.
- Residual control for up to five years
- One bottle creates six gallons of finished product
- Also targets termites and carpenter bees
- Must be mixed and diluted with water
FAQs About Carpenter Ant Killer
What Do Carpenter Ants Look Like?
Carpenter ants are pretty easy to spot. Of all the species of ants around your home, carpenter ants are the biggest. They’re also one of the only species of ants to be mostly or entirely black. Many other species have reddish coloring.
On average, these ants can be 6mm-12mm in length. Carpenter ants also have a single node at their waist, whereas others have two nodes.
Some other species of ants also have a single node, including crazy ants, house ants, large yellow ants and field ants. You can tell the difference between these species and the carpenter ant by looking at their thorax. Carpenter ants have a rounded thorax, whereas these other species have an unevenly-shaped thorax.
Can Carpenter Ants Damage Your Home?
Other species of ants can be a nuisance, but carpenter ants can be a real threat to your home. Unfortunately, most homeowners don’t know they have an infestation until it’s too late.
Carpenter ants like to carve tunnels or galleries into decaying wood. They don’t actually eat the wood. They create these complex galleries in order to nest inside. Eventually, their burrowing and tunneling can cause structural damage.
Unlike with termites, it can take years for carpenter ants to cause significant damage.
Why Do We Have Carpenter Ants?
In most cases, carpenter ant infestations usually mean that there’s a moisture problem in the building. That’s why they’re often found near sinks, dishwashers, laundry areas and bathrooms. They especially love to hang around areas where there are plumbing leaks.
Addressing the source of the moisture will make the building less attractive to the ants.
These ants usually feed on dead vegetation and other insects. If you see carpenter ants in your home, don’t assume that they’ve made a nest somewhere. They may be living outside, but forage indoors for moisture and food scraps.
Do Carpenter Ants Take Bait Back to the Nest?
Yes. Like other ant species, carpenter ants will take bait back to the nest to share with other worker ants and the queen.
Will Regular Ant Bait Kill Carpenter Ants?
Different ant species are attracted to different types of baits. Baits that attract odorous and black garden ants may not be attractive to carpenter ants.
We recommend looking for baits and traps designed specifically for carpenter ants. These products have been proven to be effective against this species. Otherwise, you’ll be playing a game of trial and error – which can be expensive, frustrating and time-consuming.
How Long Do Carpenter Ants Live?
If left unchecked, carpenter ants can establish large and stable colonies in three to six years.
Carpenter ants reach adulthood in 1.5-3 months. In colder seasons, it can take up to 10 months for these ants to go from egg to adulthood. Queens can live up to 10 years, and female worker ants can live up to seven years. Male workers die shortly after they mate.
How Many Traps Do You Need to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants?
The answer to this question will depend on the size of the infestation. The larger the infestation, the more traps you will need to exterminate the colony.
It may require two or three traps to get rid of a smaller infestation. A large infestation or an established colony may require dozens of traps, or possibly an exterminator.
Carpenter ants can be more than just a nuisance – they can cause real damage to your home. It’s important to act quickly and start treating the problem immediately. If left unchecked, carpenter ants can cause expensive structural damage. The products we’ve reviewed can help you tackle your insect problem and get rid of those pesky carpenter ants for good. From sprays to granules, dust and gels, you’re sure to find a product on our list that suits your needs.