Odorous House Ants: Basic Information & How to Get Rid of Them

Odorous house ant isolated on rock background.

General information

Odorous house ants are also known as Tapinoma sessile. Other names also include stink ant or coconut ant. Here are few essential details about odorous house ants.

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1. Appearance and size

The bodies of odorous house ants are brown or black in color that is spread uniformly over their entire body. They contain one hidden node in their bodies which is located on their petiole. Their antenna is partitioned into 12 segments and thorax is uneven in shape if looked from the sides. The anal hole doesn’t contain any circle of hairs. The remarkable feature which is also a reason behind the ‘odorous’ part of their name is the discharge of rotten coconut smell from their bodies when they are crushed. The size of their bodies is minuscule. They are just 2.4 to 3.3 mm long.  

2. Habits and habitat

Odorous house ants change their habitat more frequently as compared to other creatures. They transfer their nest after every three or four weeks, and this transference depends on the availability of food sources and adequate weather conditions. An excellent place for nesting is near water bodies or other moist areas. However, they tend to move indoor during extreme weather conditions, like in the rain, to be protected from water and in dry weather, in search of water and food. In indoor areas, they can be found near dishwashers, leaked pipes, spoiled insulations, inside walls, beneath floors, and the wooded areas left by termites.

The outdoor nesting places or habitat may include soil, rocks, debris, small mountains, wood piles or any other location where food is available in abundance. Odorous house ants can move a long distance for a long time in search of food or water. According to research, they can move more than 25 feet from their nests. While moving, they disperse fragrant paths behind them that assist another member of their colony to follow. It is the reason ants can be seen traveling in a straight line.

3. Diet and behavior

Odorous house ants feed on a large variety of food items but usually prefer sugary things. In the outdoor areas, the most favorite food of this creature is honeydew. Honeydew is a sweet substance, produced from the sap of insects while feeding. Insects like aphids, leafhoppers, scales and mealybugs produce honeydew. Besides honeydew, odorous ants also feed on flowers nectar and decayed insects or animals. However, inside human locality, they search for sweet items first. However, they also love to feed on meat and grease.

4. Reproduction

The rate of reproduction of odorous ants is higher than other species of ants. After hatching, these insects undergo complete metamorphosis stages starting from larvae and reaching the adult stage while passing through pupa phase. There are two possible ways of making colonies. One is when male and female ant swarm out of the nest and after coupling female fertilized ant makes the new colony. This type of colony mostly formulated during summer months. The second type is when queen ant and workers move out of their main colony and establish their own. Odorous house ants are polygamous in nature with multiple queens present inside a colony. Few queens can reproduce countless workers and hundreds of reproductives.

The season of reproduction for odorous house ants is summer and particularly during the months of June and July. In the first case of colony formation, male and female swarmers are produced during spring, and they leave the colony to mate after becoming adults. After coupling, male ants die and female starts laying eggs. The egg laying procedure continues from the month of April until November. However, few odorous ants, taking benefits of consistent indoor temperature continue to produce eggs throughout the year. Although growth time depends highly on suitable atmospheric conditions, usually it lasts for 34 to 83 days period.

Problems caused by odorous house ants

Like other insects, odorous house ants do not pose severe threats to humans like stinging with toxic bites or destroying wood structures like termites do. These ants’ species can only bite, and that too doesn’t cause any serious harm or injury. The only major problem these ants create for humans is their habits of consuming a wide variety of available food resources. This practice results in contamination of food in case of their infestation. This contaminated food can be proved poisonous for humans if eaten accidentally. Therefore, you should discard it immediately. Furthermore, these ants continue to generate new nests near adequate food resource, resulting into many ants’ nests inside the home. Therefore, you cannot ignore their infestation, and you must take proper steps to identify and eliminate their nests as soon as possible.

Signs of infestation

The most prominent infestation sign of odorous house ants is seeing worker ants searching for food. Additionally, they sometimes leave visible tracks that can give the idea about their infestation and can also help in locating their nests. Sometimes, winged reproductive ants can also be seen flying inside the home near light resources. The presence of breeding is an indication of densely populated ants nest in a nearby location as reproductives are usually produced after the colony has reached the number of some thousand members inside the colony.

Prevention

It is crucial to prevent odorous house ants from entering your home. Otherwise, they may contaminate your food and can cause health hazards. You must take the following steps to prevent the invasion in your home:

  • As the primary attractants of odorous house ants inside your home are food, therefore, the first move should be taken to remove food from their accessible areas.
  • To prevent their entrance into your home, you need to seal all openings, cracks and leaking pipes.
  • Outside the home, decayed leaves, wood piles, and other such clutter should be taken far away from your home.
  • All those branches and vines should be trimmed that tend to touch your home, as insects can use them as a path to enter your home.
  • Any standing water around or inside your locality should be removed immediately, as it will attract many other insects’ species besides ants.
  • Maintaining proper cleanliness of home is also imperative in order to keep pests away.
  • All leftovers should be disposed of properly after every meal. All dishes should be washed, and counter and floor should be mopped properly to remove any dropped food particle.

How to get rid of odorous house ants with best-selling repellent

Besides taking necessary preventive steps to prevent odorous house ants’ infestation, repellents are also available in the market that can be used to avoid these ants. Popular amongst them are discussed below:

1. TERRO® Liquid Ant Baits

  • Product Features

TERRO Liquid Ant Bait is manufactured on a unique formula. Instead of killing all ants at once, it gives time to target worker ant which then directs many other ants towards this bait. It is pre-filled liquid bait station that is easy to use.

  • How to use

TERRO Liquid Ant Baits should be placed at the location where ants visit frequently. The bait is proved as sweet attractants for the ants. The ant will consume it and inform other ants as well about this food source. As this bait doesn’t kill insects instantly rather, they start interrupting their digestive system. In this way, enough time is available for forage workers to lead many other ants towards this food source. At the time of ants’ expiration, this bait will be sufficiently stored inside the colony that will lead to destruction and killing of the whole colony.

  • Major benefits

This liquid ant bait can kill ants within a period of two to three days.  Furthermore, its fluid station prevents bait from getting dried.

2. TERRO® Ant Killer Spray

  • Product Features

TERRO Ant Killer Spray is an aerosol spray that protects ants in two steps. Firstly they kill ants instantly on contact and secondly it provides protection with its residual material for almost six weeks.

  • How to use

It is very easy to use. Simply spray TERRO ant killer by keeping it at the proper distance from your face. It provides best results if applied when the air is still.

  • Major benefits

It can be used both indoor and outdoor area. Besides ants, it also gives long lasting repellent effects to other insects as well.

3. Advion Ant Bait Gel

  • Product Features

It is a subtle taste bait produced to kill ants. Advion Ant Bait Gel contains an advance Indoxacarb ingredient that is a potent insecticide. The product doesn’t kill ants instantly giving them a time to spread the bait inside their whole colony. It can eradicate ants within a few days of their application.

  • How to use

Apply Advion bait gel on the areas where ants can be seen or where active tracks of ants are present. It can also be applied near crevices and narrow openings through its tube-like applicator.

  • Major benefits

It can effectively kill almost all species of ants. Moreover, the product is easy to use.

4. ERRO T1812 Outdoor Liquid Ant Killer Bait Stakes

  • Product Features

Ants are more attracted towards liquid food because of easy digestion. Therefore, it can work better than other types of baits. Its active insecticide also kills ants slowly to let them spread the bait inside the colony.

  • How to use

It can be used by only keeping its ready to use bait near the areas where ants can be seen. This liquid bait will perform remaining work.

  • Major benefits

It is useful for all species of ants. Through its window, it is easy to monitor the whole process, and it also assists in replacing bait on time.

5. Maxforce Ant Bait Gel-Ant Poison

  • Product Features

The active product present inside Maxforce Ant Bait is Fipronil. This bait can stay active for almost two weeks. Like other baits, it also kills the ants slowly.

  • How to use

To use this bait, put it in those areas where higher traffic of insects can be seen.

  • Major benefits

The bait is made according to the type of the ant. Both sugar based and protein based bait gel can be used depending on the type of food worker ants are foraging.

Odorous house ants fun facts

Besides essential details and information, here are few fun facts about odorous house ants:

  • On the presence of Argentine ants, odorous house ants tend to move away from that place.
  • They produce unpleasant smell to make other ants alert of any danger
  • These species use the feature of budding, which means during reproduction the ants of the main colony splits into more than one colony.
  • On getting frightened or alarmed of any danger, worker ants pull their abdomen high in the air and start moving in an erratic way.
  • The colonies can develop intensely to contain more than 100,000 ants.
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