If you’ve spotted small black or brown ants roaming about inside or outside of your home, and especially if you’ve noticed a rotten, sweet smell that reminds you of coconut, then chances are you have a problem with odorous house ants.
These pests are common in the United States and, though they’re not dangerous to people or pets, are still disastrous when they get into our homes, kitchens and pantries.
Prevention is key when working on keeping odorous house ants at bay, but if you already have them inside, getting rid of them can be difficult. But don’t worry, there are methods and products you can use to remove these pests from good.
What Are Odorous House Ants?
Odorous House ants can build their nests in loose soil outside, in trees, or even inside the walls of your home.
The odorous house ant goes by many names. Often referred to as sugar ants, coconut ants, and even stink ants, the scientifically named Tapinoma Sessile is one of the most common types of house ants found in the United States.
Native to the US, odorous house ants are famous for the foul smell they emit when they are crushed. This smell is also more prevalent when the ants congregate in larger numbers and can even seep into the foods they contaminate, destroying the taste and smell of foods and costing hundreds of dollars in waste each year.
Like all ants, odorous house ants include three types of ants in their colonies.
- Worker/Soldier Ants
- Alate Ants
- The Queen Ant
To get rid of odorous house ants, it’s important to get the entire colony, which often begins with the queen.
The below video gives a more in depth description of odorous house ants and the problems they can cause inside of our homes.
Getting rid of ants is already a complicated process because they reproduce so quickly. In fact, female odorous house ants are able to lay one egg each day and it only takes about 24 days for ants to hatch and reach adulthood.
Furthermore, many odorous house ant colonies contain more than one queen, and colonies can range in size from 100 to upwards of 1000,000 ants.
Quelling an ant problem in your home is stressful, but that stress can be compounded when you aren’t sure which type of ant species you are dealing with. This is why it’s important for you to be able to identify odorous house ants for certain.
How To Identify Odorous House Ants
Odorous house ants can live both inside and outside.
Identifying odorous house ants can be difficult because these pests are so small. If you have a magnifying glass handy, we suggest using one to help identify these insects.
Odorous house ants measure no more than 1/16th and 1/8th of an inch in length. They can be either brown or black and have antennae that are divided into 12 segments. Their bodies are smooth, hairless, and they are often the most common ant found inside kitchens, homes and pantries.
That said, this doesn’t mean you should assume you have odorous house ants just because you find small black ants in your kitchen.
One of the most telling signs of odorous house ants in your home is that awful, sickly sweet smell. If you have ants but don’t smell that scent, you likely have a different type of house ant.
If you’re not sure whether you are dealing with odorous house ants or not, there are other signs to look for to help you identify odorous house ants.
Some common signs of odorous house ants in the home include:
- Finding ant nests in soil, trees, or bird nests around your property
- Seeing a few stray ants inside your kitchen (AKA Scout Ants)
- Finding a line of ants or ant pathways (ants following ant trails)
- Discovering ants seemingly coming out of nowhere to overtake a piece of food
- Smelling a sweet, foul odor that reminds you of rotten coconut
Identifying Ant Trails In Your Home
Often, one of the first signs of odorous house ants in your home, aside from the smell, is going to be ant trail. Ant trails typically include a few ants walking in a line that leads either away from a food source and back to the nest or towards a food source from the nest.
Ant trails are pheromone trails laid down by scout ants to lead the colony to food sources. It is very important to identify these ant trails in your home and get rid of them using a quality cleaner. However, you can also use these ant trails to your advantage by placing bait the trails, which can help eliminate the colony.
We will talk more about that further down.
Identifying Odorous House Ant Nests
Odorous house ants are attracted to warmth and can build nests both inside and outside of your home if conditions are right. Inside your home, their nests are often found inside walls, along cracks and crevices of the flooring, beneath appliances, beneath sinks, around heaters, hot water pipes, cupboards, pantries, and more.
When odorous house ants build their nests outside, they will often build them in loose soil, but they have been known to build nests in trees, bird nests, tree bark, wood crevices, home foundation crevices and more. Some odorous house ants have even been found nesting on the top of warm honey bee hives.
What Attracts Odorous House Ants To Your Home?
Odorous house ants can be black or brown and are attracted to mostly sweet food
As we mentioned above, odorous house ants are attracted to warmth. This is why they will often build their nests in areas of the home where heat is prevalent like around hot water pipes, heaters, sinks, appliances, etc.
They are also attracted to food. Odorous house ants can eat a variety of foods but they prefer sweet foods. Still, they can dine on seeds, plants, grains, cereals, cookies, crackers, candy, sodas, juice, fruit, plants, honeydew, and even other insects like aphids and mealybugs.
Last, odorous house ants are highly attracted to water. Leaky pipes, runny faucets, drains, and damp basements can all be an attractive source of moisture for these stinky pests, so it’s very important to ensure you fix any problematic areas in your home and repair leaks to help prevent them.
Like most pests, odorous house ants are opportunistic. They will often be enticed into your home if they sense a food or water source is nearby, and will get into your home through ripped screens, gaps in doorways, and cracks or crevices in your foundation.
For this reason, home maintenance is a very important part of keeping odorous house ants at bay. But before we talk about preventing odorous house ants, let’s go over how to get rid of them once you’re sure you have them.
How To Get Rid Of Odorous House Ants – Most Popular Methods
You have options to pick from for ant control depending on the severity of your infestation.
There are a few different ways you can go about getting rid of odorous house ants, including the use of natural products, insecticides, home remedies and preventatives.
There are pros and cons to using all of the above methods, and some will need to be used in conjunction with other methods in order to work properly.
Before deciding which method is best for you, it’s best to consider the severity of your odorous house ant infestation, your lifestyle, and what you hope to accomplish.
Let’s learn more.
How To Get Rid Odorous House Ants Using Natural Products
Natural methods for how to get rid of flying ants are usually safer for people, pets and the environment. (https://pixabay.com/photos/ant-flying-wing-insect-animal-5337037/)
Natural products include organic sprays, powders and cleaners that help eliminate odorous house ants without the use of harsh or toxic chemicals. These methods are often safest for homes with pets and children.
That said, using natural products may not be as effective as using insecticides, and they may need to be used in conjunction with other pest control remedies in order to quell your odorous house ant infestation completely.
Diatomaceous Earth Crawling Insect Killer
Diatomaceous Earth is an organic compound made of fossilized algae. This product can be used for a number of home uses but is also a wonderful pest control agent for getting rid of odorous house ants, bed bugs, roaches, spiders, earwigs, and many more pests naturally.
It works by penetrating the waxy exoskeleton of insects and dehydrating them, which eventually kills them. Diatomaceous Earth is perfectly safe for people and pets. It can also be used inside and outside. However, it works best when it is dry and will need to be reapplied if it gets wet.
HARRIS Boric Acid Ant Killer
Boric Acid powder is another natural powder formula designed to kill pests like odorous house ants naturally and safely. However, while it is safe to use in homes with children and pets and is generally harmless, boric acid can be irritating if it gets on skin or is inhaled or ingested in large amounts.
It works by expanding in the ants’ stomachs upon being ingested, killing the pests within 72 hours. This time period allows for the ants to bring the poison bait back to their nest, effectively killing the colony and queen.
EcoRaider Ant Killer
EcoRaider is a non-toxic and all natural formula that kills odorous house ants, bed bugs, spiders, roaches, and a number of other crawling insects. It is safe to use in homes with pets and children and can be used both inside of your home and out.
The product kills on contact and is stain free. It also helps prevent ants and other pests from entering your home again for another four weeks.
Wondercide Natural Pest Control Indoor Spray
Wondercide is an all natural pest control spray you can use indoors to get rid of and repel a number of pests from odorous house ants to flies, to roaches, to bed bugs. The product uses plant-based ingredients like essential oils to repel and kill pests on contact, making it safe to use in areas where food is stored and prepared.
You can even use it directly on house plants, which is wonderful if you have odorous house ants in your home that are attracted to your plants.
Wondercide Outdoor Pest Control Spray
If you find you like Wondercide products, you’ll be happy to know they also provide an outdoor perimeter spray. This spray is again safe to use in areas where pets and children play and is fine to spray directly on garden plants and lawns.
The outdoor spray is long lasting and is a safe and natural alternative to insecticide sprays for pest control regiments all year round.
MDX Concepts Organic Home Pest Control Spray
No products found.
We like MDX Concepts as a spot treatment for odorous house ants because it is effective, safe and smells great. That said, this spray will not work on it’s own to stem a large infestation and should be used in conjunction with other pest control remedies in this article.
You can use this spray inside your home and along the perimeter, and it is safe to use in kitchens and in areas where children and pets eat, sleep and play.
Max Catch Pest Glue Traps
While glue traps will not help you get rid of odorous house ants on their own, they can help you monitor an infestation and even identify the precise species of ant you are dealing with.
The above traps by Max Catch are safe to use as they contain no toxins or harsh chemicals and will not harm children or pets if they accidentally get into them.
The order comes in a 36 count package and the traps can be folded to fit in tight spaces including beneath beds, behind cupboards and under skins.
How To Get Rid Of Odorous House Ants Using Home Remedies
Essential oils like peppermint oil can help eliminate odorous house ants and many other pests.
If you like the idea of using natural products to get rid of odorous house ants then you’ll likely also like the idea of using home remedies.
While home remedies can be an effective way of getting rid of odorous house ants, they are not usually 100% effective on their own unless you are dealing with a small infestation.
However, if you catch an odorous house ant infestation early, you can use the below home remedies to help quell the problem.
Some of the best household ingredients you may already have on hand to get rid of odours house ants include:
- Essential Oils
- Castile Soap
- Citrus Fruits
- White Vinegar
- Salt and Pepper
- And Aspartame
How To Get Rid Of Odorous House Ants Using Essential Oils
Essential oils make for effective insect repellents and can be implemented in many different ways. Using a diffuser can help repel odorous house ants and prevent them, but you can also make your own essential oil repellent spray.
Some of the best essential oils to repel odorous house ants include:
- Cedarwood oil
- Peppermint Oil
- Citrus Oil
- Tea Tree Oil
- Cinnamon Oil
- And Eucalyptus Oil
How To Make Your Own Essential Oil Ant Repellent Spray
- 10 – 15 drops of the essential oil of your choice
- 2 cups of water
- 1 spray bottle
Mix the above ingredients into a spray bottle and spray it around your home and wherever you have noticed the odorous house ants. You can also spray this oil spray along cupboards, inside cracks and crevices along your foundation, below your sink, behind appliances, and more.
How To Get Rid Of Odorous House Ants With A Homemade White Vinegar Spray
White vinegar is an excellent and natural cleaning agent that can be used in conjunction with other products and repellents on this list. It can be used to eliminate odorous house ant trails as well as repel any future odorous house ants from coming around.
- 1 cup of white vinegar
- 1 cup of water
- 1 spray bottle
- 10 drops of essential oil (optional)
Mix the above ingredients into a spray bottle and add an essential oil like peppermint oil or eucalyptus oil for an extra boost of repellent power. Then use this spray as you would any cleaning spray. Wipe down countertops, pantries, cupboards, and appliances to help remove ant trails and repel future scout ants.
How To Get Rid Of Odorous House Ants Using Chalk, Cinnamon, or Cornmeal
Using a household ingredient like cinnamon, chalk or cornmeal can help prevent not only odorous house ants from entering your home but also a number of other types of ants and insects.
Chalky substances like chalk, cinnamon and cornmeal can disrupt odorous house ants’ waxy exoskeleton, which helps hold in moisture and keep them hydrated. Odorous house ants will generally avoid walking through these substances, so you can use this to your advantage by sprinkling cinnamon, cornmeal or chalk around the perimeter of your home, around ant nests you find outside, or along doorways and garages to keep ants at bay.
How To Get Rid Of Odorous House Ants Using Insecticides
Insecticides and insecticidal bait can help eliminate large house ant infestations.
Insecticides often work well and work quickly for getting rid of odorous house ants. However, many insecticides contain dangerous chemicals that can be harmful to people, pets and the environment. Furthermore, they will not always work 100% of the time if you do not use them properly or if you forgo using preventative measures and other measures of pest control along with them.
When considering using insecticides to get rid of odorous house ants, make sure you do plenty of research to ensure you have the right product for your problem.
We have also listed some of our favorite products to get rid of odorous house ants for you to consider below.
Amdro Ant Block Granule
No products found.
If you notice a number of ant nests outside your home, it’s important to use a preventative ant killer like Amdro to keep them from getting into your home. The above granules can be administered near the ant nests to kill the colony and the queen.
Once the granules are applied, they last for up to three months. The product covers over 1,000 linear feet but is for outdoor use only.
Hot Shot Liquid Ant Bait
For very large odorous house ant infestations, an ant bait like this one is going to be one of the most effective ways to get rid of it. Ant baits work by enticing the scout ants to take the bait back to the colony for the queen and other ants.
This helps not only kill scout ants but also the queen and the entire colony, stopping the infestation at the source. However, the bait does contain chemicals that can be toxic to people and pets and should be used only as directed.
How To Prevent A Future Problem With Odorous House Ants
Clean surfaces often and keep your home organized and tidy to help prevent future ant problems.
As we mentioned briefly above, preventing odorous house ants from becoming a problem in the first place is key to avoiding an expensive and time consuming experience trying to get rid of them.
Luckily, preventing odorous house ants is generally much cheaper and much easier than trying to manage an infestation. Take a look below at our expert tips and tricks.
Keep Your Home Tidy and Clutter Free
Keeping your home organized and tidy can help reduce pests of all kinds from bed bugs to ants to spiders and more. Try to reduce clutter, keep bedding and linens clean, and use quality cleaning products you trust on a routine basis.
Doing this will also help you keep an eye on your home, giving you a much better chance at catching a potential infestation of odorous house ants early on.
Sweep, Vacuum and Clean Surfaces Routinely
Even the smallest forgotten crumb can lead to an odorous house ant infestation, which is why it’s so vital to clean regularly. Sweep floors often, vacuum when you can, and use cleaning products or vinegar sprays to wipe down your surfaces.
Doing so will not only remove any leftover food particles or crumbs, but it will also remove any potential odorous house ant trails you may not even realize are there.
Do Not Leave Dirty Dishes Out Overnight
Odorous house ants have an incredible sense of smell and can be attracted to the scent of dirty dishes left in the sink overnight.
If possible, try and rinse dishes and put them in the dishwasher or even soak them in soapy water in the sink overnight to reduce the smell of food. Doing this will help reduce your chances of dealing with roaches and other hungry pests as well.
Seal Garbage Bins and Keep Them Properly Stored
Invest in sealed garbage containers with lids to help reduce the chances of smelly foods attracting odorous house ants. We also suggest you store garbage bins properly. Another way to keep ants and pests out of your garbage is to spray the garbage bin with an essential oil spray or rubbing alcohol often.
Store and Seal Food Properly
Keep pantry food stored in air-tight containers that are either made of glass or a thick plastic. Keep perishable foods refrigerated when they are not in use and do not allow fruits or veggies to become overripe in fruit baskets on the counter.
Keep Up With Routine Home Maintenance
There are several ways odorous house ants can get into your home, but you can make it more difficult for them by keeping up with routine home maintenance. Patch any tears in screens and make sure screens are properly fitted to windows.
Caulk and seal cracks and crevices around your home, repair any gaps between doorways, and fix leaky pipes and clean up water damage as soon as it occurs inside your home
Remove Ant Colonies You Find Near Your Home
An odorous house ant infestation indoors usually begins outdoors.The best way to prevent odorous house ants from getting into your home is to remove any ant nests you find outside and around the perimeter of your property.
We also suggest trimming back any vegetation along the perimeter of your home and keeping it at least three feet from the siding. Cut back branches, flowers, shrubs, etc to reduce easy access to your home.
Use A Quality Pest Control Regime Year-Round
Even after you’ve managed to get rid of odorous house ants, it’s wise to implement a pest control remedy all year round. Whether you use natural methods, home remedies, or products to keep odorous house ants at bay, using a good pest control method can help to prevent not only odorous house ants, but other pests as well.
We hope this article has been a helpful guide on how to get rid of odorous house ants and prevent them from returning.
Now it’s your turn to tell us your thoughts. Have you tried any of the products or home remedies listed above for pest control? Which ones worked best for you? Let us know in the comment section below.
Jack founded our blog after two decades of working in the pest control industry. His vast experience dealing with a wide array of pests allows him to diagnose issues quickly and get to the heart of pest problems quickly and effectively. He has serviced more than 2,000 homes over his career and there is hardly any pest situation that he has not seen before.