One of the most common household pests in the U.S., the odorous house ant, has a claim to fame related to its odor. Squish one of these ants, take a whiff and you’ll know what we’re talking about.
Odorous house ants are not only smelly, they are also quite small, measuring approximately 2.4-3.25mm long. They have dark brown or black bodies with an unevenly shaped thorax. They have a single node on their petiole, hidden by their abdomens. However, the true telltale characteristic of the odorous house ant is unquestionably the foul odor when their bodies are crushed.
Odorous house ants live in colonies ranging in size from hundreds of workers and one queen to thousands of workers with hundreds of queens. The queens of an odorous house ant colony are capable of producing thousands of workers and hundreds of reproductive ants.
Odorous house ants thrive both indoors and outdoors. They can live virtually anywhere, in a variety of conditions. Outside, these ants nest in the shallow soil beneath stones, boards, logs, mulch, debris, etc. They are most likely to invade buildings during rainy weather or in the fall. Once inside, odorous house ants nest in wall voids around hot water pipes and heaters, under sinks, behind cabinets and beneath the floor.
Odorous house ants travel in trails, foraging day and night. Outside, they feed on anything, including insects, seeds and plant secretions, but prefer sweets. They are extremely fond of honeydew, a sugary waste produced from sap-sucking insects such as aphids.
Inside homes, odorous house ants will feed on sweets, meats, grease, dairy products, pastries, cooked or raw vegetables, and fruit juices. As they search for food, the ants will establish trails along kitchen counters, cabinets, sinks and baseboards. Because of this foraging, odorous house ants can easily contaminate human food supplies. While this species does not sting or bite, they can become persistent pests, traveling indoors in large numbers