• Call (800) 479-6583
  • Mon-Fri 8am-5pm
  • |
  • Sat 9am-5pm

How To Control Odorous House Ants

Having ants on your property or invading your home stinks. But there is a type of ant species that can make the experience of an ant infestation stink LITERALLY. That is the Odorous House Ant. Odorous House Ants are native to the United States and get their name due to the foul odor they emit when stepped on or crushed which smells similar to that of rotten coconuts.

Odorous House Ants commonly invade homes, hence the “house” in its name as well. They typically enter homes in large numbers after heavy rains to seek solace from flooding conditions. They are not known to cause any damage to homes, which may make them go undetected by homeowners for some time before they are discovered.

Odorous House Ants like to forage both day and night and are most attracted to sweet tasting foods like honeydew from plants, syrups, fruits and other sugary foods. They are often nicknamed “sugar ants” because of their affinity for sweets. When indoors, these ants usually build their nests in wall voids, especially around moist and damp areas such as around water pipes sinks, cupboards and crevices.

If left untreated, these odorous house ants can get pretty out of control with their invading population. If you have a problem with this type of ant, Solutions Pest and Lawn can help by offerning professional pest control products as well as DIY advice and how-to guides formed by experts. Read on below to learn how to treat this pest.

Browse our recommended products for treating Odorous House Ants below. If you have any questions or concerns you can contact us anytime via phone, online live chat or email and we’ll be happy to help you.

How to Get Rid of Odorous House Ants: Solutions 4 Step Guide

Odorous house ants can be tough to control if you don’t have the proper tools and know-how to tackle them. Not all ant species are treated the same way so identification is essential. If you aren’t sure whether or not you have an odorous house ant problem, send us a picture of it at identification@solutionsstores.com and we will help you identify the ant and give treatment recommendations. Solutions Pest and Lawn suggests a 4 step process which includes a thorough inspection, chemical applications, baiting and preventative measures to keep ants away. Look below for details:


Step 1: Start by tracking down the whereabout of the ant. This will require you to be thorough in inspecting the indoor and outdoor spaces of your home. Find the areas of high ant activity and make note of any ant trails you see. You can even observe the ants closely making sure not to disturb them while they are foraging for food and they may very well lead you to the colony or nesting site.


Step 2: Once you have found the ant colony, you can then proceed to treat the colony via pesticide application. What you use depends upon your preference and it depends on where the area of activity is. Typically, colonies found outdoors could be treated with liquid insecticide. We recommend using Reclaim IT. Indoors where ants can be found in wall voids, it would be best to use dust treatment by using D-Fense Dust.


Step 3:  Indoors, treat the area with a sugar-based bait like Terro PCO Liquid Ant Bait will work great since odorous house ants love sweets. We recommend being patient when applying baits and allowing up to 2 weeks for the bait to be laid out. It takes time for ants to take the bait and share with other ants and create the desired domino effect which will kill off the entire population. 


Step 4: After the ant population has been depleted from your baiting and spray treatments you will want to keep them out. Using a preferred residual insecticide like Reclaim IT Insecticide, you’ll want to spray a barrier around your home to keep ants away.  Spray every 60 days to minimize activity around the home.


Learn More About the Odorous House Ant

The odorous house ant (scientifically known as the tapinoma sessile) is native to the United States and is found all over the country as well as in Canada and Mexico. Odorous house ants like to eat a variety of different things are not too picky for foods they find inside of homes but they do have a preference for foods that are very sugary. Outdoors, the odorous house ant will eat on honeydew pushed out by aphids and on nectar from flowers and buds.


Appearance of The Odorous House Ant

Worker ants range between 1/16 to 1/8 inch (2.4-3.3 mm) long and all look uniform in appearance, colored either brown or black with an antenna which is 12-segmented without a club. They have an uneven thorax and one hidden node on their pedicel. There is no circle of hairs at the anal pore. What stands out about this ant is why they have their name which is the foul odor they give off when crushed or stepped on.


Life History

Odorous house ants can develop extremely large colonies but tend to maintain colonies of only several thousand workers with many queens. Winged reproductives appear in May through July. Workers are very active and move rapidly in single files. They mostly prefer sweets but will also feed on dead insects and grease. Nests are typically found outside under rocks, boards and the like, but can also next within structures. Colonies are from hundreds to many thousands of individuals in size.


Odorous house ants often nest indoors wherever they can find moisture and warmth. They can be found in wall voids, but also in wood which have been damaged by termites.


Why Are Odorous House Ants Such a Problem?

On of the most common household ants found in the U.S., odorous house ants have a heck of a sweet tooth which often leads them into your home to search for food on your kitchen counters day and night, in hopes to find a sugary snack. Odorous house ants may appear to look like any typical ant—small and brownish black or black in color. But you will immediately notice a peculiar difference when squished, via your nose. They give off a bad odor which crushed which some describe as either stinky blue cheese or rotten coconut.


The odor they have is for good reason. They use it as a defense mechanism against predators much like a skunk does.Unlike some other ant species, odorous house ants don’t possess any stingers to ward off trouble. When odorous house ants are bothered, they begin to frantically run around, spraying their odor from tiny sacs called anal glands in their rear ends. I guess you could say they just start farting all over the place. While this doesn’t bother us humans so much, it can be enough to repel predator insects or animals who want to eat them.


Odorous house ant colonies can range from fewer than 100 workers and one queen to more than 10,000 workers and hundreds of queens. Outdoors, odorous house ant nests have been found nesting under rocks, inside acorns, mulch, and leaf litter, in potted plant soil, in garbage cans, lawn furniture and cars. Indoors, their a little more creative in where they set up camp. Nests have been found under doormats, in dishwashers, and even under a toilet seats. Generally, like most ants, odorous house ants prefer to nest wherever there is a water source nearby and sufficient heat for comfort.


The odorous house ant has a tremendous love for sweet and sugary foods that is quite fascinating. Based on scientific studies, when given the option, odorous house ants always go for sugar over all other types of food. Outdoors, they get their sugar fix from flower nectar and honeydew, a sweet substance produced by small insects called aphids. In exchange for a taste of honeydew, odorous house ants will provide protection for aphids and other honeydew secreting pests from predators.


Unfortunately for us, their habit of consuming sweet foods leads them into people’s homes to forage for something to satisfy their sweet tooth. While it can be disturbing to see a trail of these ants heading for your pantry, odorous house ants shouldn’t be feared. They don’t transmit diseases, they don’t cause structural damage to your home, and they don’t bite or sting. So if you see them in your home, take a moment out to observe their foraging.


If you don’t want odorous house ants sticking around, keep your kitchen clean of crumbs and sources of food and remove sources of standing water. Limit potential nesting sites like mulch and potted plants away from your home as well.


Tips For Controlling Odorous House Ants

Eliminating odorous house ant workers can be accomplished primarily through the use of baits. The workers carry the ant bait back to the nest, sharing the poison with the colony, essentially creating a domino effect of death where the entire colony crumbles. We have a variety of different ant baits that Odorous House Ants enjoy. However, baits containing hydramethylnon, fipronil or boric acid are slower acting and do not kill the workers before they have had a chance to share the baits with the queen and developing immature ants.


Choose baits designated for sweet-loving ants like Ant-Trax Ant Bait. Place the baits in areas where you have spotted ant activity and make certain that children or pets cannot reach them. Maintain sufficient amount of baits to satisfy the colony by replacing used bait. Be patient when it comes to baits as it may take up to two weeks or longer to obtain total control.


Contact Us