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One of the most common ants that owners of homes and properties find in large number is the odorous house ant. These tiny ants don’t look like much but infestations can quickly grow out of control.
Odorous house ants are not very big in terms of size, but their colonies can be quite large. Once one of the colony’s scouts have found a source of food, such as something sweet on your kitchen counter, the scout ants will lay down a trail for others to follow. Before long an entire colony of ants will be inside your home. This can be a big problem and be unsanitary around food preparation surfaces.
Western Exterminator is the expert in getting rid of odorous house ants and can discuss removal and treatment options with you. We can get rid of the ants and prevent them from returning if you contact us immediately.
An odorous house ant is a member of the tapinoma sessile species of ant. Odorous house ants are also known as stink ants, coconut ants, or sometimes simply OHA’s. They are brown or black in color and only about 1.5-3mm in length total, which makes them a very tiny species of ant.
Odorous house ant colonies
The odorous house ant has a hierarchical system with a queen who is in charge of producing the young, workers and scouts who provide food for the queen, take care of the eggs and seek out food away from the nest. Colonies can range in size from a few hundred to tens of thousands.
The scouts go out and search for food to bring back to the nest. Given their size, scout odorous house ants can get into a home or building very easily. Once a food source is found, the scouts leave an invisible scent trail back to the colony that the rest of the workers can use to find their way back to the food source. That’s when you may see the trail of ants traipsing through your kitchen, up the counters and into the food sources.
The OHA is infamous for being very hard to kill. In fact, there have been examples of injured workers who continue to live, work and contribute to the colony with almost no stoppage in work. Even queens that have had crushed abdomens have been seen to continue to lay eggs. It’s because of this hardiness that they are so hard to get rid of once they enter your home.
The odorous house ant loves to eat sugary things over anything else. So, if you have something like cookies, pastries, donuts or even fruit and vegetables out on the counter, they could attract odorous house ants. They will also happily snack on dairy products.
Their preferred sustenance is known as honeydew and it is a substance produced by aphids and mealybugs. Aphids snack on plants and, as they do, this sticky, sweet substance is expelled from their bodies and ants find it irresistible. Odorous house ants will collect this substance and bring it back to the colony.
This is not to say that Odorous house ants ONLY eat sugary foods. They are scavengers and opportunists and meat or other foods left out or dropped on the floor will also attract them. This includes things like dog and cat foods and food left in garbage cans.
OHA does not have a stinger, although they will defend their nests and colonies, like all species of ants, against invaders. They are not interested in biting humans, but are just looking for food, so bite risks are minimal at best.
An odorous house ant, despite the name, doesn’t have an inherent smell. Since they burrow into soil and are sometimes called “soil ants” they may smell like dirt if there are enough of them. So, how did they get their name?
Odorous house ants have a scent that they leave when they are crushed or stepped on. It has been described as like “rotten coconuts.” That’s why they are sometimes called coconut ants. While that may not be much when you just crush one ant, but if you crush a lot of them, the smell can be quite potent and be hard to get rid of around the house.
Odorous house ants are known to overwinter in their nests during colder months. Once the weather warms up in the spring or summer, they emerge again and start looking for food. During spring and summer you are more likely to find that your home infested by odorous house ants than other parts of the year.
Although odorous house ants are hard to remove, they are just like other ants. Ant insecticides and traps can be used to get rid of them. However, they are also quite clever and there could be multiple colonies in an area utilizing different ways to get inside. So you might get rid of one OHA colony just to get invaded by another.
The best way to get rid of odorous house ants for good is to seal up cracks and spaces where they can get inside. Make sure that no food is left in easy reach and placed in sealed bins. Make sure that the stove, floor and areas around the garbage cans are cleaned and clear of dropped food, too.
Finally, if you continue to have an odorous house ant invasion, it might also be time to call in the experts like those at Western Exterminator.
If you have a home in the Northwestern United States or other areas that are prone to odorous house ant invasions, stop them before they can get inside. Contact Western Exterminator and get one of our ant control experts out to your home or business. We’ll inspect the property to find where the ants are likely getting in, what they are finding attractive about your property, and recommend treatments that will get rid of odorous house ants and offer solutions to stop them from coming back.
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