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Odorous House Ants Are Frequent and Unwelcome Visitors

By Chris Williams on May 31, 2011.

Q. I get these really small ants in my home now and then. They usually go away for awhile in the summer but no matter what I do they eventually show up again. What are they and why won’t they leave me alone?

There are several very tiny ants that can become nuisance pests in homes. One that is becoming more common in our area is the odorous house ant. It may be the one giving you headaches. Odorous house ants get their name because they have a rotten coconut odor when crushed. These ants are very small, only about 1/16 to 1/8-inch long, and solid brown in color. They don’t have a stinger, but they can bite.

Odorous house ants commonly nest outside in soil under stones, logs, patios, and in similar sites. They mainly feed on sweet foods like “honeydew,” which is a sugary excretion from aphids and other insects that feed on plant juices. The ants may move indoors when their honeydew supply disappears, or in the fall, or during rainy periods. Inside, they look for sweets like sugar, pastries, and syrup, but they may also feed on a variety of other foods such as seeds, live or dead insects, dry pet food, and greasy foods like meats, cheeses, or oils.

Inside, odorous house ants usually nest near a moisture source, often in the kitchen. Nests are located in wall voids, under floors or carpets, around heaters and hot water pipes, or in crevices behind baseboards, cabinets, window sills, etc. Worker ants tend to follow trails along baseboards and carpet edges between nest sites and food sources. When alarmed, the odorous house ant runs erratically with its abdomen raised.

The best way to control pest ants is to find and treat their nests. But odorous house ants are tough to control because they often have multiple nests, they move their nests when disturbed, and an indoor nest is often connected to other secondary nests outside. Pest control professionals usually have to use a combination of methods, including baiting and outside treatment, to successfully get rid of the odorous house ant indoors.

Colonial Pest Control is your ant control expert. Our trained inspectors can determine whether the ants are actually nesting in your home or whether they are just foraging inside from outside nests. No matter which ant is bugging you, we have an ant removal and management program that works. Call us today!

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