Odorous House Ants

The odorous house ant is native to most of the entire United States ranging from Canada into Mexico.  These ants feed on many different items including most items found in homes but apparently prefer to feed on those high in sugars.  Outside, they feed on honeydew excreted by aphids and on nectar from flowers and buds.

Workers are 1/16 to 1/8 inch long and monomorphic (all members are about the same size).  The body is uniform in color from brown to black, antenna is 12-segmented without a club, thorax is uneven, and pedicel has one hidden node.  There is no circle of hairs at the anal pore.  A distinctive characteristic of this species is the rotten odor when crushed.

Odorous house ants can develop extremely large colonies but tend to maintain colonies of only several thousand workers with many queens.  Winged reproductives appear in May through July.  Workers are very active and move rapidly in single files.  They mostly prefer sweets but will also feed on dead insects and grease.  Nests are typically found outside under rocks, boards and the like, but can also next within structures.  Colonies are from hundreds to many thousands of individuals in size.

Odorous house ants will nest indoors near sources of moisture and warmth, in voids, but also in termite-damaged wood.  Their ability to feed on many types of food brings them into conflict with us when they contaminate stored products in the pantry.

Prevention Tips

Removing standing water around the exterior of your home. 

Trim all trees and shrubs to make sure none of the branches touch your home.

Proper sanitation is needed to prevent foragers from entering your home.

Caulk all cracks, holes and joints near the ground, doors and windows.

Keep firewood away from foundation of home.