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Pests & Wildlife

Pests & Wildlife

Odorous House Ants

The small, 1/8 " long black or dark brown Odorous House Ant gets it's name from the rancid smell (most commonly compared to rotten coconuts) it produces when crushed or alarmed. While they are not generally destructive to the structures of homes and buildings, they can quickly become a major nuisance and a health hazard. 

Behavior


The Odorous House ant is a widely distributed native species found throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The common name of this insect is derived from a peculiar pungent coconut like odor produced in the anal glands. Large populations of these ants live in western Washington, between Vancouver, British Columbia and Portland, Oregon. Workers are approximately 1/16 inch long and have a uniform brown to black color.

Odorous house ants have adapted to a wide range of habitats and thrive nearly everywhere from sea level to about 10,500 feet. They nest in sand, pastures, grass fields, forests, bogs, houses, and frequently under stones and logs. They also build nests under stumps and the bark of dead trees, in bird and mammal nests, plant galls, and debris. Nests in soil are shapeless, shallow, and temporary as the ants frequently move. Colonies can consist of thousands of workers and usually contain many queens. New queens typically mate with their brothers within the colony. Some queens also mate with unrelated males. Nuptial flights occur only outside colonies, from June to mid-July. New colonies may form by budding when a new queen(s) leaves the parent colony with workers or as a single foundress queen. Workers move fast and often travel in columns. When alarmed they run about erratically with their abdomens tipped while releasing an alarm pheromone (coconut-like odor), which draws more workers to the release site. Workers collect honeydew excretions from mealy bugs, aphids, scale insects, and plant hoppers and will protect these insects from predators. Workers also gather nectar from plants and feed on both living and dead insects.

Prevention

 

  1. Keep trees and shrubbery trimmed back from the structure.

  2. Keep cracks and entryways to your home sealed year round.

  3. Inspect the exterior your home several times a year, if you find ants call and have them identified by a professional pest control company.