Odorous Ants
Odorous ants can contaminate food and indicate other pest issues.


The odorous house ant is found throughout the Bucks County area and across the U.S. Colonies of these nuisance pests may have many thousands of workers and several queens. Winged members of the colony emerge beginning in May and through the middle of summer. However, worker odorous house ants may be seen at any time of year.

Odorous house ant nests may be found either outdoors or within structures. They may make use of wood that has been damaged by termites. With their ability to consume a wide variety of foods, they can be a menace in kitchens and pantries.

Getting rid of an odorous house ant infestation is no easy task. Typically, it involves destroying the nest, and this process requires comprehensive knowledge of the habits and behavior of the species. With the assistance of a licensed ant control provider, such infestations can be safely and effectively eradicated.


Odorous house ants are small, which can make it difficult for people without training to make a definitive identification. Adult workers measure between one-eighth of an inch and 3/16 of an inch. Most members of the species are either brown or black, and their bodies are smooth and hairless. Odorous house ants have a thorax with an uneven shape. However, their most distinguishing characteristic is the odor of rotten coconut that they emit when they are crushed.


Unlike some ant species, odorous house ants are not particularly selective when it comes to choosing a nesting site. They may nest either indoors or out, and their ability to thrive in a wide range of conditions makes it easier for their colonies to grow and survive.

When they nest outdoors, odorous house ants tend to build nests just beneath the level of the ground. The nest may be secreted beneath a fallen tree or a pile of logs. Mulch around plants or a convenient rock also may provide nesting sites.

Odorous house ants are most likely to seek an indoor nesting site during rainy periods. They prefer a location that is warm and moist. Termite-damaged wood may provide an ideal spot, so properties that have had a termite problem in the past are particularly vulnerable. Additionally, odorous house ant nests may be found in wall voids, close to heating and cooling units or beneath floors.


Because odorous house ants live in such large colonies, the workers must forage for food day and night. Outdoor food sources include mealybugs and aphids, both of which secrete honeydew. This is a sugary substance that forms the main portion of the odorous house ant's diet. The honeydew supply is plentiful through the spring and summer, but as the weather cools, the supply becomes less certain. Odorous house ants are more likely to venture indoors for food at this time.

The species also requires protein in their diet, and dead insects typically fulfill this need. Odorous house ants also are known to consume grease.

Their need for sugar and protein makes many human foods attractive to odorous house ants. They will consume meat, a variety of dairy products, fresh fruits and vegetables. Any sweets like pastries or cookies also will be targeted by odorous house ants.


While considered a nuisance pest, seeing odorous house ants is not necessarily a reason to panic. Still, the presence of any pest in the home or office can be a sign of a problem. Moreover, ants that are targeting human foods may contaminate them with all sorts of bacteria and filth. These foods are no longer safe to consume, resulting in an economic loss.

Many people are made uneasy when they see a troop of ants marching across their floors, walls or counters. They have a good reason for concern, as ants may trail filth across these surfaces, requiring regular and frequent cleaning.

Odorous house ants also may be a concern because seeing them may indicate the presence of other pests, such as termites. An inspection by a qualified exterminator will uncover any underlying problems.


Odorous house ants live in large colonies with hundreds of thousands of individuals. Each colony has at least two queens, and colonies that are particularly well established may have several. Each queen may produce thousands of workers for the colony and hundreds of winged reproductive members.

Mature reproductives emerge in a swarm during the late spring or early summer. They mate, and then impregnated females move off to establish new colonies.

Workers compose the largest number of colony members. They are responsible for feeding the colony and maintaining its nest. When people see ants in their kitchen, it usually is the workers, who travel to a food source in a single-file line.


Odorous house ants are not known to cause direct harm to human health. Additionally, they do not sting or bite. The most serious threat this species poses is that they do contaminate food that is intended for people and pets. Eating contaminated food may lead to gastrointestinal distress.


Signs of an odorous ant issue include:

Large numbers of small, dark ants in the kitchen
A smell of rotten coconut when these ants are crushed
Flying ants swarming around the house in the late spring or early summer


To help prevent problems with odorous ants the following precautions should be taken:

Keep foliage trimmed back around building exteriors
Do not allow limbs and branches to touch building exteriors
Place woodpiles and yard debris piles well away from structures
Make certain that gutters and downspouts are clear
Eliminate standing water, especially when close to structures
Fill in or cover gaps around doors and windows
Place screens on each window and door
Cover or seal all cracks and holes in foundations
Do not store food on counters or tables
Store all food in containers with tight lids
Do not allow spills or crumbs to sit on counters or floors


Effective ant control requires a thorough inspection of the building to locate all existing nests, identify the type of ant involved, locate entry points, and determine the best type of treatment.

SafeGuard Pest Control, LLC has been serving Bucks County area home and business owners with successful pest control for over 20 years. Our trusted, licensed exterminators can identify the pest and implement immediate treatment so that everyone in the home or office can regain peace of mind.

SafeGuard Pest Control, LLC.
A Division Of Newtown Termite & Pest Control, Inc.
© Copyright 1990-2022 
All Rights Reserved