How to Get Rid of Odorous Ants

How to Get Rid of Odorous Ants

Odorous Ants

The Odorous House Ant "Tapinoma sessile" is a native species, found throughout the United States. It earns its name by producing a foul, odor when crushed.
They are often confused with the pavement ants, but has only 1 node.


The workers are about 1/16–1/8-inch (2.4–3.25mm) long. The body is brown to black in color. The antennae have 12 segments.


Females in the nest lay one egg daily. It takes an average of 24 days for the young to reach adulthood. Colony size ranges from 100 to 10,000 Ants, and can be easily driven away by invading Argentine Ants.


They forage day and night The nests can occur in a great variety of situations. Inside, these Ants usually construct their nests in wall voids, especially around hot water pipes and heaters, in crevices, sinks, cupboards, etc. Outside they are found in exposed soil, usually shallow, often located beneath a board, brick, stone walk, etc. They are most likely to enter buildings when their honeydew supply or sweet supply of food is reduced by natural occurances such as rainy weather or autumn leaf fall.


They can feed on anything such as insects, honeydew, seeds, and plant secretions, but do prefer sweets. They are extremely fond of honeydew and attend such honeydew-excreting insects as plantlice (aphids), scale insects, and mealybugs.

Ant Trails

Odorous ants as well as other ants lay down a chemical trail of pheromones. Ant trails occur between nest sites and food sources. When baiting it is important to look for their trails and place the bait there.

Have you ever stepped on or otherwise crushed trailing ants, smelled a strange odor—a bit like rotten coconuts? If so, it is probable that those ants were odorous house ants and you can understand how they got their name!

Odorous house ants can be found trailing through kitchens in homes all across the U.S. This ant is most likely to enter homes after heavy rains when it is attempting to escape flooding of its shallow nest. Odorous house ants are tiny but fast. They usually travel in lines, but if they are disturbed or alarmed they will run around erratically, releasing their odor as they run. Some people have also equated their odor with a sort of a strange pine scent, though rotten coconuts are the most frequent association.

Small Ants in Your Home

But their foul odor is not the only unique thing about these tiny ants. They move their homes so often that if they were winged, they could have their own frequent flier program. During the summer, these ants will move their nests as often as every three weeks, and that's not easy to do when you have thousands of ants and multiple colonies in each nest.

Some odorous house ants do have wings for a very short time. In the spring or early summer (depending on the geographic area), these ants will swarm to breed. After mating, the female may return to the colony to lay her eggs or may venture out to start a new one.

At only about 1/8 inch long, this dark brown or black ant is especially attracted to sweets, such as fruit juices and pastries, but it will also eat a variety of foods, including meats and pastries. And it can nest just about anywhere; under stones, logs, mulch, or debris; in the nests of birds or mammals; and inside homes, in walls, window frames, and insulation.

How to Get Rid of Stinky Odorous House Ants

Treat the exterior perimeter with a non-repellant insecticide like Taurus SC. Spray a coarse mist of Taurus SC around the base of the foundation. Spray a foot up the wall and a foot out from the wall. Spray 18-inch bands around all window, doors, and plumbing, utility penetrations and along any visible ant trails. It can't be detected by the ants, so they crawl through it and unknowingly track it back to the nest and queen, killing all. We recommend the use of ant baits indoors, especially in cold weather where ants won't travel outside as often. A gel bait like Optigard Ant Bait Gel is very effective.

Unless you use a non-repellent spray such as Taurus SC or FUSE , baiting is the preferred treatment over typical residual spraying of repellent insecticides. Baiting is the most reliable way to eliminate the entire colony. When choosing Ant baits, it is best to choose from both the sugar-based baits and protein/grease-based baits. If using a spray, choose a non-repellent type unless you are treating the nest itself.

Why Ant Bait?

The use of residual sprays or dusts stress Ant colonies, causing them to split into sub-colonies and scatter. This scattering, also called budding, multiplies the number of Ant colonies, and thereby multiplies your Ant problem.

When you bait, use a slow-acting bait. Quick-kill insecticides and baits will only kill the foraging Ants, not allowing those worker Ants to take the bait back home to feed the queen, nest workers, and brood.

If the Ant bait that you are currently using is not effective (if the Ants are not visiting the bait) you will need to change the baits. Slow-acting baits provide a variety of the foods the Ants find in nature. Examples are: other insects (proteins/grease-based baits), nectar, aphid honeydew, and plant products (sugar and carbohydrates found in sweet-based baits).

Choosing a bait requires an understanding of the nutritional needs of the colony. To be sure that you have all the baiting needs met, you may want to be ready with a sugar/carbohydrate-based bait, a grease/fat-based bait, and a protein-based bait.