The Best Carpenter Ant Killers of 2022

Carpenter ants are troublesome insects that chew through wood, which may include the framework of one’s home. Eliminate infestations and prevent new colonies from forming with a carpenter ant killer.

By Tony Carrick | Updated Jun 20, 2022 1:04 PM

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The Best Carpenter Ant Killer Options

Photo: amazon.com

Although many ant varieties can cause problems in a home, few are as potentially damaging as the carpenter ant. This aptly named species builds its nest by tearing tunnels through wood. If left unchecked, this can wreak havoc on a home—resulting in thousands of dollars in damage. The worst part? Once a colony is established in one’s home, it’s almost impossible to get rid of. This is why it’s crucial to find a suitable solution that will eliminate the colony for good.

Carpenter ant killers offer a cost-effective alternative to hiring a professional exterminator to rid one’s home of destructive ants. These products come in various forms: sprays that kill on contact; liquid baits that attract and infect worker ants, which carry the poison back to their colony; and granules applied outdoors to prevent ants from getting inside the home.

This buyer’s guide contains shopping considerations and recommendations for effective products to help find the best carpenter ant killer for one’s pest problem.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Terro T300B Liquid Ant Killer, 12 Bait Stations
  2. RUNNER-UP: Hot Shot MaxAttrax Ant Bait
  3. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Raid Max Double Control Ant Baits
  4. BEST BAIT GEL: Combat Indoor and Outdoor Ant Killing Gel
  5. BEST GRANULAR: Spectracide Ant Shield Insect Killer Granules
  6. BEST SPRAY: Raid Ant Killer Spray
  7. BEST NATURAL: Safer Brand Diatomaceous Earth Ant & Insect Killer
  8. BEST OUTDOOR: Amdro Ant Block Granules
  9. BEST FOR NESTS: Terro 1806 Outdoor Liquid Ant Baits
  10. BEST TERMITE & ANT KILLER: Spectracide Terminate Termite & Carpenter Ant Killer
The Best Carpenter Ant Killer Options

Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Carpenter Ant Killer

Understanding how the different types of ant killers work is key to addressing a carpenter ant problem. Ahead, learn more about granules, sprays, and gels, as well as other factors to consider when selecting the right product.

Type

Like many ant killers, those specific to carpenter ants come in two basic types: baits and kill-on-contact insecticides. True to its name, the latter type of insecticide kills ants within seconds of contact. Kill-on-contact insecticides typically come in aerosol spray bottles.

These sprays kill the ants almost immediately, and many leave a residue that will kill other ants that scurry through the substance days later. Although kill-on-contact products eliminate the immediate threat, they aren’t effective at destroying the colony unless sprayed directly onto an anthill.

Baits consist of a small receptacle that holds either dry pellets or a sticky liquid. The bait attracts ants and functions in one of two ways: either the pellets are collected and carried back to the colony, or a sticky liquid or gel sticks to the ants’ bodies. The ants carry the poison back to the colony, where it infects other ants and, with luck, the queen.

Bait toxin works on a delayed timeline, killing the ants days or weeks after exposure. This delayed action allows time for the ants to return and infect the entire colony. Although baits don’t offer the instant gratification that sprays do, they have better long-term results by eliminating entire colonies.

Active Ingredients

Ant killers use a variety of active ingredients in the chemical war on ants. Borax is a particularly popular pesticide; the substance is deadly to ants but presents a low level of toxicity to humans, making it suitable for indoor ant baits.

Hydramethylnon is another common active ingredient that’s lethal to ants while posing minimal risk to humans. Other active ingredients used in ant killer include indoxacarb, avermectin, lambda-cyhalothrin, and fipronil.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies these chemicals as “reduced-risk” pesticides, meaning they present a low toxicity level to humans. Keep in mind that a low toxicity level doesn’t deem these products as completely harmless; pesticides of any kind should be handled with care.

Application Methods

Ant baits come in several forms, each with a different application method and specific means of killing ants. Consider whether you prefer ant killer bait stations, granules, sprays, or dust based on the following characteristics:

  • Bait stations are enclosed plastic receptacles with small holes that allow ants to enter, collect a liquid or gel bait, and then leave. These baits can take several days to kill the ant, giving it time to return to the colony and infect the population. Bait stations typically have liquid or gel ingredients that stick to the ants that enter.
  • Granules are sprinkled on the ground, where they dissolve and leave a residue that kills ants on contact. Granules will treat the soil for several months, creating a barrier that prevents ants from getting into the home.
  • Sprays consist of a thin, sticky liquid that can be applied directly onto ants to kill on contact or to cracks and crevices where ants enter the home. Sprays leave a residue that infects and kills any ants that cross over it.
  • Dust ant killers typically use diatomaceous earth, a natural substance that is toxic to ants. When ants crawl through it, the dust penetrates their exoskeletons and dehydrates them from the inside out.

Safety

Many of the active ingredients in ant killers pose no serious health risks to humans. However, consumers should still be careful when using pesticides in or around the home. When using an ant killer, it’s essential to take precautions to limit and prevent exposure. Keep the following tips in mind for application:

  • Always wear protective gloves when handling an ant killer.
  • Don’t place baits in areas that are accessible to children or curious pets who may come into contact with them.
  • Sprays and dust can be absorbed into the skin, so don’t apply them in high-traffic areas.
  • Avoid treating areas where food is stored or prepared.
  • When applying an ant spray, wear eye protection and direct the spray away from the eyes or any exposed skin.

Versatility

Carpenter ant killers are effective at more than eliminating and controlling ant infestations. These multifunctional products can also take out a broad range of other common pests, including roaches, fleas, crickets, termites, and other insects. Most manufacturers list the types of insects the pesticide treats on the product container.

Additional Features

Many ant baits have additional features that make them suitable for use in different environments. Ant killers with syringe applicators facilitate targeted applications, in areas such as the small cracks and gaps between baseboard molding that ants can infiltrate. This allows the user to treat the affected area without overspray, minimizing exposure to humans and pets.

Bait stakes have a time-release poison that will not only take out existing colonies but also prevent ants from arriving and establishing new ones. Outdoor bait stations have waterproof housing to prevent rain from coming into contact with the poison, thereby ruining the bait station.

Our Top Picks

The list below features ant killers capable of killing ants that make their way into a home while being able to take down an entire ant colony in a matter of days. These powerful ant killers come from some of the best-known producers of residential pest-control products.

Best Overall

The Best Carpenter Ant Killer Option: TERRO T300B Liquid Ant Killer, 12 Bait Stations
Photo: amazon.com

Terro’s popular gel-filled bait stations are an affordable and safe option for carpenter ant control. The concept of these traps is simple yet effective: The worker ants enter the trap, become covered in toxic liquid, and then return to the colony to infect the queen—eliminating the entire population and ending the pest war. The baits are designed to destroy the colony in a few days.

The active ingredient is borax, so this bait is safe for use inside the home. Installation is easy: Snap off the tab to open the entrance to the bait, and place the bait station wherever there’s ant traffic. Terro’s ant killer comes in packs of 6 and 12.

Product Specs

  • Type: Bait station
  • Longevity: 3 months
  • Quantity: 12

Pros

  • Destroys the colony in a few days
  • Safe for indoor use
  • Comes in a pack of 12

Cons

  • Can be difficult to open without spilling contents

Get the Terro liquid carpenter ant killer on Amazon or at The Home Depot.

Runner-Up

The Best Carpenter Ant Killer Option: Hot Shot MaxAttrax Ant Bait
Photo: amazon.com

Although ant baits may not offer the instant gratification of killing on contact that the fast-acting sprays do, baits are one of the most effective means for eliminating ants—and Hot Shot’s MaxAttrax is one of the best. These baits consist of a small ant house that attracts worker ants who enter, become covered in poison, then return to the colony to infect and kill the queen.

This bait’s active ingredient is indoxacarb, which is lethal to insects but listed as a reduced-risk pesticide by the EPA. This ingredient is thus suitable for use indoors in places where ants are active. One advantage of this bait is it works up to 6 months, eliminating existing colonies while preventing the establishment of new nests.

Product Specs

  • Type: Bait station
  • Longevity: 6 months
  • Quantity: 4 or 8 traps

Pros

  • Starts working in hours
  • Safe for indoor use
  • Lasts up to 6 months

Cons

  • Does not work for certain ant species

Get the Hot Shot carpenter ant killer on Amazon or at The Home Depot.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Carpenter Ant Killer Option: Raid Max Double Control Ant Baits
Photo: amazon.com

This value pack includes eight ant baits at a bargain price, offering an economical solution to a carpenter ant problem. These ant baits feature a double-control bait, which includes two types of food to attract ants. The active ingredient, avermectin, results in a delayed toxicity, killing infected ants within a day or two of contact. This gives the ant time to return to the colony to infect the rest of the population.

These baits effectively kill an entire colony within a week and keep working for up to 3 months, helping prevent the establishment of new ant colonies. These baits are suitable for indoor use in kitchens, bathrooms, and other living areas.

Product Specs

  • Type: Bait station
  • Longevity: 3 months
  • Quantity: 8 traps

Pros

  • Low price
  • Will kill an entire colony
  • Safe for indoor use

Cons

  • Takes longer to start working

Get the Raid Max carpenter ant killer on Amazon or at Ace Hardware.

Best Bait Gel

The Best Carpenter Ant Killer Option: Combat Indoor and Outdoor Ant Killing Gel
Photo: amazon.com

The syringe design of this Combat gel bait allows for a precise attack on ants. It works by injecting a line of gel in hard-to-reach places where ants travel or enter the home, such as small cracks around windows and along baseboards. Ants eat the gel and then return to the nest where they deliver the poison to other ants before dying—destroying the colony in 3 to 5 days.

This bait gel contains the active ingredient fipronil, which kills ants just a few hours after ingestion. The syringe dispenses a thin bead of gel, suitable for areas where a spray might damage paint or the finish on furniture. It also minimizes the amount of poison distributed, reducing the toxin’s chances of coming into contact with pets and humans.

Product Specs

  • Type: Gel
  • Longevity: Not specified
  • Quantity: 0.95 ounces

Pros

  • Design allows for precise applications to small cracks and crevices
  • Distributes small amount of poison
  • Can destroy a colony in days

Cons

  • Small coverage area

Get Combat carpenter ant killer on Amazon or at Lowe’s.

Best Granular

The Best Carpenter Ant Killer Option: Spectracide Ant Shield Insect Killer Granules
Photo: amazon.com

These granules kill on contact and come in a 3-pound bag, providing enough product for heavy infestations. The toxic granules are distributed by opening the bag’s bottom and shaking it, minimizing the need to mix or handle the pesticide. This process makes for a safer and more convenient application style.

The granules contain lambda-cyhalothrin and dissolve into the ground. This product is designed for outdoor use on the lawn and around the home’s foundation, creating a barrier that prevents ants from entering the house. Any ants that touch the granules will die on contact. In addition to killing ants, this product is also effective against a broad range of other insect pests, including roaches, fleas, and crickets.

Product Specs

  • Type: Granular
  • Longevity: N/A
  • Quantity: 3 pounds

Pros

  • Kills on contact
  • Works outdoors
  • Kills a broad range of insects

Cons

  • Not safe for indoor use

Get the Spectracide carpenter ant killer granules on Amazon or at The Home Depot.

Best Spray

The Best Carpenter Ant Killer Option: Raid Killer Spray
Photo: amazon.com

Ant sprays are effective at controlling an ant population and offer the satisfaction of killing the tiny intruders on contact. Many sprays, however, are harmful to pets and children. Raid uses essential oils that are toxic to ants but safe for humans and animals, providing a formula ideal for indoor use. Instead of pesticide ingredients, this spray uses lemongrass extract and geraniol, an extract taken from pine trees.

This versatile spray takes out more than ants; it kills roaches and 20 other common household insects. Use this spray around door casings, baseboards, and other crevices where ants infiltrate the home. This spray can stain certain finishes and paints, so be sure to test the product before using it.

Product Specs

  • Type: Spray
  • Longevity: N/A
  • Quantity: 11 ounces

Pros

  • Uses essential oils that are safe around pets and children
  • Kills various types of bugs
  • Kills bugs quickly

Cons

  • Doesn’t last as long as other spray types

Get Raid carpenter ant killer spray on Amazon.

Best Natural

The Best Carpenter Ant Killer Option: Safer 51703 Diatomaceous Earth Ant & Insect Killer
Photo: amazon.com

For those looking to end their ant problem without introducing harmful chemicals into the environment, diatomaceous earth is a solid option. This natural substance consists of the fossilized remains of microscopic aquatic organisms; it infiltrates the exoskeletons of ants, dehydrating them from the inside out and killing them within 48 hours.

Diatomaceous earth is also an effective means of killing bed bugs, cockroaches, fleas, and other creepy crawlers. This product is not harmful to humans or pets, providing a safe pest solution for homes with pets and young children. Safer Brand’s diatomaceous earth comes in 4-pound bags.

Product Specs

  • Type: Powder
  • Longevity: Does not expire
  • Quantity: 4 pounds

Pros

  • Starts killing in 48 hours
  • Doesn’t expire
  • Suitable for indoor or outdoor use
  • Nontoxic

Cons

  • Can be messy for indoor use

Get the Safer Brand carpenter ant killer on Amazon or at The Home Depot.

Best Outdoor

The Best Carpenter Ant Killer Option: Amdro Ant Block Granule
Photo: amazon.com

Why wait for the ants to infiltrate the sanctity of the home before addressing the problem? Make a pre-emptive strike with this granule-based product from Amdro. This hydramethylnon pesticide is designed to be sprinkled around the outside of the entire home, creating a protective barrier that blocks ants from reaching the house.

Worker ants take the bait and return to the colony with it, poisoning the entire population and putting an end to the threat. The granules come in a large 24-ounce bottle with a shaker top that allows the user to sprinkle it around the home. A single bottle can cover up to 1,080 linear feet and lasts up to 3 months.

Product Specs

  • Type: Granule
  • Longevity: 3 months
  • Quantity: 24 ounces

Pros

  • Creates an outdoor barrier
  • Lasts up to 3 months
  • Covers a large area

Cons

  • Not suitable for indoor use

Get the Amdro carpenter ant killer on Amazon or at The Home Depot.

Best for Nests

The Best Carpenter Ant Killer Option: Terro 1806 Outdoor Liquid Ant Baits
Photo: amazon.com

Most liquid ant baits are not suitable for outdoor use because they’re permeable to rain. Thanks to its innovative design, this liquid ant bait from Terro is impervious to rain. The bait is covered and elevated off the ground, preventing rain from getting in.

The ants come and go via a ramp. Stakes keep the bait station firmly rooted to the ground, preventing it from tipping over. Once inside, the ants come in contact with the poison, which uses borax as its active ingredient. The ants then return to the colony to infect others and, eventually, the entire colony.

Product Specs

  • Type: Bait station
  • Longevity: 3 months
  • Quantity: 6 traps

Pros

  • Rainproof design
  • Lasts up to 3 months
  • Large base prevents it from overturning

Cons

  • Can be difficult to break seal without spilling some of the contents

Get Terro carpenter ant killer bait on Amazon or at Ace Hardware.

Best Termite & Ant Killer

The Best Carpenter Ant Killer Option: Spectracide Terminate Termite & Carpenter Ant Killer
Photo: amazon.com

Termites and carpenter ants can do significant structural damage to a home by either eating or nesting in its wood framing. This ant and termite killer from Spectracide is designed to take out both types of insects on contact. It features a gun-shaped applicator with a high-pressure spray that can treat areas around the home’s foundation where carpenter ants and termites reside.

When applied to the foundation, it stays present in the soil for up to 9 months and prevents future infestations. It’s also suitable for use around baseboards and closets, and outdoors around decks and wood fences. In addition to ants and termites, this product eliminates spiders, roaches, and other pests.

Product Specs

  • Type: Spray
  • Longevity: 9 months
  • Quantity: 1.3 gallons

Pros

  • Lasts for up to 9 months
  • Kills other pests
  • Odorless formula
  • Works indoors or outdoors

Cons

  • Doesn’t work on all ant species

Get the Spectracide carpenter ant killer on Amazon or at The Home Depot.

Our Verdict

With a design that keeps the active ingredient safety contained and its ability to kill an entire colony, Terro Liquid Ant Killer is the best all-around solution for eliminating ants from the home. Those looking for a product that will kill ants quickly without presenting a hazard to occupants in the home should consider Raid Ant Killer Spray, which uses essential oils to take out these pests.

How We Chose the Best Carpenter Ant Killers

A good carpenter ant killer should be an effective and safe way to eliminate these wood-destroying insects from the home. With that in mind, we selected products that use active ingredients that are proven to kill ants without harming the home’s occupants. To be effective, an ant killer needs to have an impact on more than just the ants taking the bait, so we chose products that are capable of destroying entire colonies. Moreover, we chose ant killers that may take longer to start working but will ultimately eliminate the ant problem more effectively than those products that kill on contact.

In terms of safety, the user shouldn’t have to come into contact with the bait, so we selected products that limit the exposure of the active ingredient to the person applying it. Where possible, we chose eco-friendly products containing all-natural ingredients that are nontoxic to people and pets.

Tips for Keeping Carpenter Ants Away Naturally

Although there are plenty of products that use chemicals to take out carpenter ants, there are also many ways to keep carpenter ants at bay without having to use a pesticide. Carpenter ants are attracted to wet and rotting wood. Those who keep their homes well maintained and who repair any damage as soon as it’s spotted won’t attract carpenter ants.

Carpenter ants also like heavily wooded areas, so keep brush and tree limbs away from the home’s exterior. Likewise, make sure mulch and soil do not come into contact with the wood parts of the home. Cracks and crevices around the home’s foundation can serve as an entryway for carpenter ants. Sealing these gaps will make it harder for carpenter ants to find a way in.

  • Repair leaks and water damage immediately.
  • Keep brush and tree limbs off of the home.
  • Don’t allow landscaping to come into contact with wood parts of the house.
  • Seal cracks and crevices around the home’s foundation.

FAQs

If you still have questions about carpenter ant killers, read on for answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about these insects and products.

Q: What repels carpenter ants?

Carpenter ants use pheromones to create trails that other ants follow. You can disrupt this system of communication by using essential oils such as clove, lemongrass, peppermint, orange, and lemon, which confuses carpenter ants, preventing them from following the trail.

Q: Do carpenter ants go away on their own?

Once they’ve established a nest in damp wood, carpenter ants will not move away on their own. The nest will continue to grow and expand unless it’s treated, which can result in serious damage to the home and other structures.

Q: How do you treat a carpenter ant infestation?

There are several options for treating a carpenter ant infestation. Granules for outdoor use are an excellent way to eliminate colonies in the yard or create a barrier around the house. Liquid baits designed for indoor use are a good way to eliminate colonies by infecting worker ants who deliver the poison back to the nest.

Q: Will regular ant bait kill carpenter ants?

Although many ant baits will kill carpenter and other types of ants, be sure to check exactly which species the product targets before making a purchase.