Odorous Ants

Quick Stats

  • Latin Name: Tapinoma sessile
  • Size: Odorous house ants are very small, usually between 2-3.5mm in length
  • Color: Usually black or brown
  • Shape: All have an unevenly-shaped thorax when viewed from the side as well as one node on their abdomen.
  • Found in: These ants live all throughout the United States in almost every state. They’re not susceptible to cold or drought.
  • Overview: Odorous house ants are more of a nuisance than a real hazard. They got their name from the rotten, coconut-like odor they emit when crushed and are sometimes called the “stink ant” or “coconut ant.”

About Odorous House Ants

Odorous ants will nest anywhere they can escape high moisture. They live in colonies numbering in the thousands and new colonies are formed in one of two ways: The queen and a worker bud off and form a new colony or an existing colony swarms to a new location during the warm summer months. Because they’re drought tolerant and can easily move indoors when threatened by weather, Odorous ants are found all throughout the United States.

Scientists don’t know much about the lifespan of Odorous ants but their queens have been proven to live at least 8 months. Some workers only live a week while others live months and lab tests have shown the species is hardy against predators, temperature, and food deprivation.

Signs of an Odorous Ant Infestation

Odorous ants love to find their way indoors. They tend to prefer sweet foods (such as honeydew produced by aphids) and will seek out sugar once inside. They’ve also been known to eat meat and even grease. Because they’re not as sensitive to the elements as some other ant species they usually come inside in search of food or water, not shelter. This hardiness also makes an Odorous house ant infestation difficult to treat without professional help.

The first sign of an ant infestation is typically the ants themselves. If you notice a stream of foragers coming from outside you can rest assured there’s likely a colony inside, too. Particularly if you spot an ant carrying a morsel of food, following it to its destination may lead you to the colony’s nest. Odorous ants can nest virtually anywhere in your home: from the basement to inside walls.

If you suspect you may have an ongoing problem with odorous house ants you should bring in a professional to eradicate the colonies from the ground up. While waiting be sure to remove any standing hazards such as stacks of firewood or piles of debris near your home that may be inviting ants to nest. Because of their foul odor it’s not recommended you crush odorous ants inside your home. A pest professional can help you determine the best course of action for your specific issue.

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