Odorous house ant is very challenging to control

By Chris Williams on March 10, 2016.

Common names don’t always adequately describe the species they represent, but the common name for the ant species Tapinoma sessile is right on the money.  Odorous house ant gets its name from the odd smelling odor it gives off when crushed.  It has been described as smelling like bad coconut.  I’m not sure about that one.  I think of it is an oddly sweet, moldy type of smell.  Okay, maybe moldy coconut works!  Here is an FYI, for you.  Some have likened the odor to blue cheese, rancid butter, or some types of spray cleaners.

Odorous house ant workers are all 1/16inch long, dark brown to black in color, with a single node (like the carpenter ant) that is obscured by the abdomen.  This ant is highly adaptable and will nest under stones, in soil, decaying stumps and occasionally inside homes.  I once tripped over a stump of a shrub that had begun to rot while servicing an account and thousands of odorous house ants poured out of their now damaged home.  Odorous house ant workers are fairly fast moving and forage for all types of food.  Sweets are preferred, but they’ll feed on any type of protein sources including other live insects.  Having observed actively trailing odorous house ants a few times in my own kitchen, it is no secret why they are a major headache for many homeowners.  They are an incredibly annoying.  I’ve watched them appear, and disappear from my breakfast bar on occasion during the summer without ever actually feeding upon anything and most of the time they’re really difficult to trail. (trail goes cold quickly!) Gel or liquid baits can be effective if the food attractant (sugar based) happens to be what they’re after at that moment. I’ve had them walk right by sweet baits meant to mimic honeydew which is produced by aphids and one of their favorite foods.  If you regularly experience problems with odorous house ant during the spring and summer months, please contact our office and ask about our semi annual service.


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