What Are Odorous House Ants?

The days are getting longer, the temperature is getting warmer, the grass is greening and little black ants are starting to appear everywhere you look. If you see a few of these pests in the yard, that’s nothing to worry about, but if you’re seeing trails of ants near the house or even worse, in the house, then it’s time to get to know your new “friend”, the odorous house ant.

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What is an odorous house ant? Their name comes from the fact that when they are crushed, they have a very strong odor, similar to the scent of a coconut. When panicked, they run quickly with their abdomens tipped which causes them to release an alarm pheromone (that coconut scent) which draws more workers to that site. Measuring at only 1/8 of an inch and varying color from dark brown to shiny black, this insect does not live alone. Living in colonies of as many as 10,000 ants with numerous queens, they are often found walking in trail along foundations, trees or sidewalks if you’re lucky. If you’re unlucky, you’ll find them walking along the edge of carpeting or along baseboards in your home.

Why are they in my home? Ants want to live outside, it’s the drive for food that bring them into your home. Preventing an infestation includes keeping foods sealed in zipper bags and closed containers. Keep all areas where food is prepared or eaten swept and crumb free. Their diet is varied and they will happily eat meats, fruit juices, sweets, and dairy products. Another area of the home, which is difficult to keep pest free, are pet food bowls. Though many people believe these ants to be solely a nuisance pest, they can potentially contaminate food with their droppings.

OK, so I see a few ants in my home, how do I know if I have a problem? If you’re seeing these nuisance pests in your home, there’s a good chance that you do have a problem. The best way to get a complete picture of how bad the infestation is would be to contact a local pest control company. Many people will try to control the problems themselves using over the counter sprays and other do-it-yourself products, this is not a good idea. By repelling the ants with the sprays, you may cause the colony to split within your home. Once split, the colony will work to rebuild itself; so now instead of one colony with 10,000 members, you may have two colonies with a total of 20,000 members. Another reason to contact a professional is that they will be able to assess where these little black invaders first enter your home and help to suggest ways of preventing additional colonies to take up residence within your house.