Odorous House Ants


Usually, when I think of a coconut smell, I think tropical and relaxing; however, rotting coconut brings a whole new perspective to insect perfume.


The odorous house ant is a brownish/black ant who is generally about 3 millimeters in length. They are often mistaken for the pavement ant who is generally found around sidewalks and patios in the summer but do find their way inside during the colder months. With a microscope, trained pest control experts can tell the difference, as this ant has 12 antennal segments and lack hair on their thorax, but the easiest way to distinguish the odorous house ant is by the smell. Rotten coconuts just have a certain unappealing smell homeowners will want to avoid inside their homes. At Canton Termite, we get frequent calls in the warmer season regarding this particular variety of ant.

The odorous house ant colony has many queens which means a prolific population. So that means infestation can happen very quickly. They tend to split their colonies up and create new sub-colonies. This process is called budding. Interestingly enough, the ants are friendly within the sub-colonies. This allows quick expansion through cooperation. Once these supercolonies form, the genetics being similar allows the ants to become particularly strong and effective in their survival methods. Foraging trails are shared and workers work interchangeably for efficiency at its highest level.


Another reason for the tremendous growth of the odorous house ant colony is that new colonies are also started by a process called fission. This is when a queen and workers will physically carry a brood over to a new area and set up a colony. This industrious ant breed is truly ingenious.


Ants in natural settings tend to have smaller numbers like 15 to 20 workers, but urban environments allow them to expand beyond a normal population with hundreds of thousands of workers present. Queens and workers can live for several years, allowing for four or even five generations to be produced in any given year. That’s quite the population explosion!


Outside, these ants like moist areas with plenty of shade and of course food sources close at hand. Common foods are dead insects which serve as proteins and also sweet foods. Areas they are found can include mulch beds and piles of wood. Inside, the odorous house ant loves to find a good leak. Condensation from pipes found in wall voids are a perfect spot for this insect to set up housekeeping. These ants will move their colony if human activity forces them to do so, so getting rid of them is not an easy task.


To treat an infestation of odorous house ants, Canton Termite will often find the foraging trails and apply bait products which the workers will take back to colony sites. Foraging trails are not always easy to find and maybe hidden out of sight. A professional knows the habits and signs of this invasive species and can apply necessary treatment to the proper areas. Finding the nesting site is important for eradicating the pest. The professional knows not to disturb the nest any more than necessary due to the frequent relocating habits of the ant. Incorrect treatment of this species can actually cause the colony to spread and become even more of a problem invader for the homeowner. In the case of wall voids, methods of treatment must be precise. Void application requires specific location injections by a knowledgeable technician in order to be successful.


Remember, it is important to have regular pest control services. The elimination of one group of ants opens up the territory to new groups. Persistent treatment and a trained eye will keep infestations from returning.


Give us a call at Canton Termite and Pest Control if you find your house invaded by these smelly little pests! Let’s keep the coconut fresh and the house ant-free!


By: Robin


Odorous House Ants
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