Citronella Ants

The Citronella Ant

Citronella Ants

Citronella Ants. By Judy Gallagher – , CC BY 2.0, 

Citronella ants (Lasius interjections) are sighted across the US and are known for their distinctly lemony scent that is released when they are disturbed or crushed (hence their name). They do not infest homes, but can infest nearby spaces and randomly wander inside. They are found in New England, Washington, Florida, and Mexico.


  • Yellow in color
  • Worker ants are about 4mm long
  • Six legs
  • Unevenly rounded, segmented body
  • Dark brown antennae
  • Queens are larger in size than the worker ants(8mm long)
  • Swarmer citronella ants have wings – females are yellow, males are black
  • Closely resemble termites

Appearance, Behavior, and Signs of Citronella Ants

  • Citronella ants make colonies in gardens, lawns, under basements, foundations, concrete slabs and other areas
  • They seem to prefer highly moist areas, such as soil, rotten logs and behind bathroom tiles. They often hide in piles of firewood
  • The tunnels they make can produce dirt mounds that reach up to 3 feet in diameter
  • They have well-established colonies, with workers and a queen
  • They are nocturnal and often hard to detect (unless they are swarming)
  • They rarely enter the main house, but the swarmers can create a nuisance by flying around in large numbers looking for another colony to establish
  • They eat sweet honeydew produced by aphids; they also feast on smaller insects
  • They are not aggressive in nature, and rarely ever bite, even when threatened
  • Signs of citronella ant infestations include seeing swarmers in or around  the house and seeing loose soil piles (that indicate the presence of a nest nearby)


Basements, gardens, foundations, and landscaping are common places where these ants build their mounds. They do not enter the household with a goal; mostly the swarmers wander inside during mating season. If you have a nest in your foundation, the swarmers can end up swarming your basement. Since they are often mistaken for termites, citronella ants can often give homeowners a good fright. Any weak point in the house (especially near ground level) can be a source of entry for these ants.

They often come inside through open doors, windows, pipelines and heating ducts. Loose floorboards and tiles can also encourage their entry. Rotting wood and damaged walls also make the house more vulnerable to citronella ants. They do not sting or cause any structural damage, but the presence of swarms can be a great nuisance. If a swarm has been sighted multiple times, it is an indication that there is a nest or mound nearby.


  • Fix all cracks in windows, doors, and walls
    how to get rid of citronella ants

    How to get rid of citronella ants. By xpda – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, 

  • Make sure your foundation has no weak spots
  • Keep checking the basement for loose floorboards
  • Keep windows closed if there is a mound nearby
  • Keep firewood away from the house

To eliminate citronella ants, the store-bought insecticide can be used. This can be poured into their mound and can be sprayed on randomly seen bunches of ants or swarmers. A vacuum cleaner can also be used to get rid of these ants.

Citronella Ant Facts

  • Citronella ants are one of the most non-aggressive species of ants
  • Worker citronella ants usually never leave the colony; only the swarmers go outside
  • Their lemon scented smell can irritate people who are highly allergic or sensitive
  • Citronella ants are often called the “large yellow ants” or “fall flying ants”
  • They are also known as “moisture ants” in the US

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