Odorous House Ant

Odorous House Ant

  • Common Name(s): Odorous House Ant
  • Order: Hymenoptera
  • Family: Formicidae
  • Common Species: Tapinoma sessile
  • Commonly Confused With: Other Ant Species


How to Identify?
Odorous house ants are either uniformly dark brown or black in color. They range from 0.25 to 0.325 centimeters in size. When looking at the abdomen (back section of an insect) you will see one node (bump) connecting it to the thorax (middle section of an insect). You can differentiate termites and ants by looking at the antenna. Ants have an antenna that looks bent or elbowed while termites have a straight, beaded looking antenna. Another key to helping identify odorous house ants is their distinct smell when crushed; they smell like rotten coconuts when smashed. This is not to be confused with argentine ants, which smell musty when crushed.


Where do they live?
These ants usually live outdoors in the soil under stones, garbage cans, decorative borders, leaf piles, or under any other safe location. Indoors, these ants frequent areas with higher moisture like water heaters or pipes.

Food Source

What do they eat?
Odorous house ants usually feed on honeydew produced by sap feeding insects. They protect the sap feeders and in return the sap feeders allow them to feed on their honeydew (sweet secretions from the backside of the insect); this process is referred to as trophobiosis. They also forage for sweets, meats, or other insects dead or alive.


What do they do?
These ants do not have a stinger and, as such, are incapable of inflicting a sting. They are more of a nuisance than anything else. They have a very strong trailing behavior and will readily come inside in search of food.

Fun Fact

Often when odorous house ants are seen indoors it is because a nest is located outside the home. Trails are usually key to finding and eradicating this nest. If you are dealing with trailing ants, as hard as it may be, please try to leave the trail long enough for an Active Pest Control Technician to come to take a look; it could be the key to solving all your ant issues!


Author: G. Wyatt West– B.S.E.S University of Georgia 2017; Board Certified Entomologist
Photo Credit: Eli Sarnat, Antkey, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

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