Terro vs. Optigard [Opposites Attract?]

Terro and Optigard are two popular ant-killing brands effective in controlling ant infestations.

These two ant baits are slow acting and eliminate entire colonies. 

Terro’s products for common ants are sweetened, sugary liquids containing borax as the active ingredient.

The sugariness is intended to make Terro liquid baits irresistible to ants, and ants that ingest the bait die.

Terro ant baits are effective and inexpensive, making these products an excellent choice for ant control. 

Optigard is a gel containing thiamethoxan as the active chemical ingredient.

Unlike borax, which kills after ingestion, thiamethoxam disrupts the ant’s nervous system of ants that eat it or come into contact with an infected ant.

The chemical causes paralysis, then death.  

Optigard is relatively costlier than Terro, but it’s effective against a broader range of ants, especially those resistant to other ant baits.

The two brands are effective against various ants, including black, Argentine, odorous, pavement, and most sugar ants. 

Due to the chemical ingredient used in Terro, it’s a relatively safer ant killer than Optigard. 

This article examines these two types of baits highly effective against various ant species. 

ant pest control terro optigard

Terro Ant Baits

Terro baits are formulated for controlling many types of ant activity.

They are slow acting and eliminate entire colonies, including the queen and the brood.

Terro products for controlling common ants are in the form of liquid ant baits.

Terro liquid baits are not recommended to be used as fire ant baits.

The active ingredient in Terro’s range of liquid baits is Borax (Sodium tetraborate decahydrate), a naturally occurring mineral.

When added to pest control products, it interferes with the digestive system, killing all ants that ingest it.

[amazon box=”B00E4GACB8″]

Product presentation and ease of use

Ants digest food in liquid form.

The sneakiness of Terro is that the sweetened liquid form makes it ready to digest.

When ants ingest it as a liquid, it quickens the ingestion process, thus fastening the killing action.

It’s actually a non-repellent.

Instead of repelling ants, the sugariness attracts them, and thus, they feast on it, seeking sugar.

Terro liquid bait and Terro multi-surface bait are uniquely designed for indoor use.

Terro liquid bait is packed and is very easy to use; just twist and place down in those pesky hard-to-reach corners.

[amazon box=”B00E4GACB8″]

The self-sticking Multi-surface bait and the outdoor traps are designed as liquid ant bait stations. 

[amazon box=”B09QNXH6HB”]

Terro liquid bait comes with nine ready-to-use pieces of cardboard for easy bait placement.

Applying the bait is an easy pour-and-place activity.

Just pour a drop of the liquid on the cardboard and place it in areas frequented by ants. 

The multi-surface bait has a sticky adhesive for easy sticking on infested surfaces, especially vertical walls, where applying or placing the liquid bait is difficult.

Terro outdoor bait stations are designed for use in field conditions.

[amazon box=”B09QNXH6HB”]

Bait stations are easy to use; anchor them on the ground near ant activity. 

A key feature about outdoor baits is they are water resistant, and the liquid bait is contained in tamper-proof packages making it safe for pets and children.

In addition to these user-friendly and safety features, Terro liquid, multi-surface, and outdoor ant baits are relatively affordable.


Optigard gel bait is also a broad-spectrum insecticide that kills many types of ants.

Like Terro baits, it’s effective against entire ant colonies. 

It’s a sugar-based gel, and most ant types prefer sugars, making Optigard highly attractive to ants.

Most ant gels are oily or gooey, and ants have difficulty handling greasy stuff, and poorly formulated gels are thus challenging for ants to carry back to the nest.

To overcome this common problem with gels, Optigard’s viscosity is consistent, making it easy for ants to collect and transport to the nest. 

Like Terro liquid baits, it’s non-repellent and thus does not drive ants away.

[amazon box=”B003K8JDPM”]

Killing action

The active ingredient in Optigard is thiamethoxan.

In contrast to borax, which kills ants by interfering with ants’ digestive system, thiamethoxan kills ants by paralyzing them. 

Thiamethoxan is a neurotoxic substance that causes muscle twitching and convulsions in insects on contact or after ingestion.

Nerve interference causes paralysis and eventual death. 

Its effects are transmissible to other ants that come into contact with the poisoned ant, making it very effective in short periods.

Why? (We’re glad you asked)

As ants communicate with each other about the food (bait) location, they transmit the poison.

Any ant that touches another poisoned ant will get killed despite not consuming the bait.

Oprigard is both a sugar and protein ant bait.

[amazon box=”B0069ALA86″]

Easy-to-use design

Optigard gel is packed in tubes with an applicator and a plunger.

The package design makes it convenient to handle and apply, and the syringe design makes using the gel in cracks, crevices, holes, hidden locations, or identified ant trails easy. 

Whereas Terro liquid baits have different product designs for indoor and outdoor use, Optigard is ready for indoor and outdoor use.

In outdoor situations, apply the gel on pheromone trails.

The syringe tip is particularly useful in pushing the gel into carpenter ant nests once the entry points are identified.

A cap is available to cover the tip of the application nipple allowing the product to be reused many times.

Oprigard is popular with ant control professionals. Due to its neurotoxicity effects, it has lower chances of resistance.

[amazon box=”B0069ALA86″]

Optigard downsides

The gel tubes are designed for controlling small-scale outdoor and indoor ant problems.

You can smear the gel outdoors where ants are noticed, but such application is limited.

Terro outdoor baits may be a better option for larger outdoor ant infestations. 


Comparing Terro and Optigard

Terro baits comparable to Optigard ant gel bait are in liquid form.

Optigard is in gel form, and Terro liquid is more manageable for ants to transport and digest since they prefer liquid foods.

Even though both are based on different chemical substances, Terro liquid bait and Optigard gel are colorless and odorless.

Both products do not stain surfaces.

Both baits are non-repellent and designed to attract ants and not drive them away.

Both are slow acting and kill entire colonies after workers take the bait back to the colony. 

They are broad spectrum and thus kill many ant species like black ants, Argentine ants, odorous ants, pavement ants, and most sugar ants.

Both products are ineffective against fire, harvester, and pharaoh ants.

However, Terro does not kill carpenter ants, but Optigard does. This is sometimes the biggest differentiator, as carpenter ants can DESTROY houses and barns.

Carpenter Ant

Terro liquid bait and Oprigard gel are applied on open surfaces.

Terro’s products come in many different forms, which give you many options when taking on your ant-battles, whereas Oprigard gel is applied on open surfaces such as cracks, wall corners, and crevices. 

This application technique makes some Terro products (not all) and Optigard gel unsafe for kids and pets.

Due to exposure to air, both baits require new applications after a couple of days.

Optigard gel remains palatable even in extreme weather for 14 days. If there is still ant activity, squeeze fresh gel where the ants are identified.

Terro’s exposure to air and temperature synthesizes the borax sugar, reducing its effectiveness.

The liquid starts turning brownish. In some cases, the stuff begins to solidify. At that point, replace the liquid bait with a fresh one.



Which is better, Terro liquid or Optigard ant gel bait?

When dealing with common and routine indoor ant infestations, Terro is the best ant bait.  

The three standard designs of Terro liquid bait are practical, easy to apply, and inexpensive. 

However, when facing a stubborn ant infestation, borax, the chemical in Terro, can prove infective because it only kills ants that eat it. 

In such situations, Optigard is a better option.

It’s a slow-killing paralyzer that eliminates all ants that digest it and all other ants that come into contact with poisoned ants. 

[amazon box=”B00E4GACB8″]

Other Terro Articles

We’ve written a bunch about this brand; check some of them out here: