Odorous Ants

The Odorous Ant

Odorous house ant

Odorous house ant. By Brian Gratwicke – Flickr, CC BY 2.0, 

Odorous ants, a native species in most of the United States, are anything but pleasant. These foul-smelling pests are often confused with pavement ants, but knowing the difference between the two species will help you eradicate an infestation more quickly and effectively.


These small ants are less than 3.3 millimeters in length and sport dark brown to black bodies. They have unevenly shaped thoraxes as well. However, you aren’t likely to identify odorous ants just based on these characteristics alone–instead, you will likely suspect an odorous ant infestation if you notice that the ants you crush emit an unpleasant smell–one that many describe as being similar to the smell of rotting coconut.

Appearance, Behavior, and Signs

Odorous ants tend to forage for food during both night and daytime hours. They prefer to eat honeydew from aphids and mealybugs, but often move inside homes during the fall, when that food supply begins to dwindle. Inside your home, they will eat just about anything, preferring meat, sugary foods, dairy, and vegetables.

These ants build their nests beneath soil, logs, debris, and rocks, but will also build nests in doors. They typically come inside during rainy weather, and will set up shop behind water pipes, wall crevices, carpets, or floors.

Like all other ants, these ants live in large colonies, some of which can contain over 100,000 individuals. Queens produce thousands of workers. New colonies are created as a result of swarms, when the colony produces new offspring who move out of the nest, mate, and establish a new colony. This process generally occurs in the summer months. Eggs hatch and develop into adults in about 30 to 90 days.


Odorous ants create their nests in the walls or floor voids of your home. These ants typically enter on a quest for food, but stay if they can find a damp, warm place to build their nests. They tend to target kitchen pantries and cupboards, though they will also nest outside. They can crawl inside through cracks in your foundation or small openings around your doors and windows.


Baiting is the most effective way to remove an entire colony of odorous house ants. Once you’ve secured your home by making sure all possible entry points (like gaps in windows or doors) are sealed, and that all food is cleared and surfaces are cleaned up, you can apply an ant bait. Choose from a selection of both sugar-based baits and protein or grease-based baits for best results. This variety will most closely mimic the ants’ diet in real life, and therefore be more attractive to them.

Using a residual spray can be detrimental, as it stresses ant colonies and causes them to split into sub-colonies. This actually multiples the number of ants you have and exacerbates your ant infestation problem.

If you’re having trouble determining the best solution for your odorous ant infestation, always call a licensed pest control specialist. This individual will walk you through every step of the process, and also help to identify the best practices and preventive measures for your individual situation.

Odorous Ant Facts

Odorous ants rarely bite, but they do release a mightily unpleasant smell when crushed. They can contaminate your food products when they enter your kitchen, and can be extremely common inside most homes. These persistent insects travel in large numbers, and homeowner methods of control such as applied insecticides can also cause more harm than good, as they cause the ants to scatter and create more nesting sites. If you notice signs of infestation, contact a licensed pest specialist as soon as possible.

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