Facts, Identification & Control
What do they look like?
- Size: Odorous house ants, sometimes called odorous ants, are small, measuring 2.4 to 3.3 mm in length.
- Color: They have dark brown or black bodies with one node on their petiole, which is hidden by their abdomens.
- Shape: Odorous house ants have an unevenly shaped thorax when viewed from the side.
Smell: The most distinguishable characteristic of odorous house ants is the smell of rotten coconut that is emitted when their bodies are crushed.
How Did I Get Odorous Ants?
These insects create nests in wall or floor voids when indoors. Odorous ants enter homes in search of food, preferring sweets and meats. Kitchen pantries and cupboards are common targets for these pests and they prefer to build their indoor nests near locations that are warm and close by to moisture. Odorous ants also nest outside and may crawl indoors through cracks in the foundation or openings around doors and windows.
How Serious Are Odorous Ants?
True to their name, odorous ants release an unpleasant smell when crushed. When they invade kitchen storage areas, the pests have a tendency to contaminate food products. These ants are able to bite, but they do not cause much pain. Odorous house ants are recognized as being one of the most commonly encountered ants inside homes. Should a homeowner experience problems with odorous house ants, contact your Orkin pest specialist since the use of homeowner applied liquid and aerosol insecticide products often create more problems by scattering the workers and creating more nesting sites. While odorous house ants do not sting or bite, they can become persistent pests, traveling indoors in large numbers.
How Do You Get Rid of Them?
What Orkin Does
The Orkin Man™ is trained to help manage Odorous Ants and similar pests. Since every building or home is different, your Orkin technician will design a unique program for your situation.
Keeping ants out of homes and buildings is an ongoing process, not a one-time treatment. Orkin’s exclusive A.I.M. solution is a continuing cycle of three critical steps — Assess, Implement and Monitor.
The Orkin Man™ can provide the right solution to keep ants in their place…out of your home, or business.
For more information or to schedule an inspection, please contact your local Orkin branch office.
Signs of an Odorous Ant Infestation
The most likely sign of odorous house ants is the foraging worker ants, although winged swarmers also might be observed.
Behavior, Diet & Habits
Where do they nest?
Odorous house ants are opportunists, nesting both indoors and outdoors. Nests are found in a great variety of situations.
Indoors, odorous ants can nest in wall crevices, near heaters, water pipes, under carpets, beneath floors or sometimes behind paneling. They are most likely to invade buildings during rainy weather. Odorous ants travel in trails, foraging day and night.
Outdoors, odorous house ants place their shallow nests beneath soil as well as in logs, mulch, debris and under rocks.
What do they eat?
Odorous house ants forage for food night and day. Outdoors they prefer honeydew from aphids and mealybugs. When the honeydew supply is reduced in autumn, they may move indoors for food. Indoors, they eat meats, sugary foods, dairy products, pastries, cooked or raw vegetables and fruit juices.
When alarmed by a predator, worker odorous ants will move in quick, erratic motions, raising their abdomens into the air.
Reproduction & Life Cycle
Like all ants, odorous house ants live in colonies. Each colony may contain two or more queens and over 100,000 workers. The queens of an odorous ant colony can produce thousands of workers and hundreds of reproductives.
New colonies are created in two possible ways. The first is when the colony produces winged male and female reproductives who swarm out of the nest, mate and the fertilized female establishes the new colony. Swarming typically occurs in the summer months. The second way odorous ants form new colonies is when a queen and workers bud off from the main colony and form their own new colony.
These ants develop by complete metamorphosis from egg, larva and pupa to adult. Development time from egg to adult is affected by several variables, such as temperature, but typically ranges from 34 to 83 days.