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An Odd-Smelling Invader
The Odorous House Ant
If you’re experiencing an infestation of tiny ants (between 1/16th and 1/8th inches in length) that pack a nasty smell, chances are good you’re dealing with a group of ants collectively referred to as “the odorous house ant.”
These are typically somewhere in color range between dark brown and black, with an oddly shaped thorax (for those of you on your hands and knees with a microscope).
If you have an infestation but don’t smell anything, crush a handful of them and see if your nose picks up what many have described as the smell of “rotten coconuts”. Alternatively, it’s been described during blind smell tests as blue cheese, rancid butter, and cleaning solution. It’s a smell that seems to elude specificity, but leave an impression all the same. Hence the name.
Typically, these ants can been found outside under firewood or soil (though not exclusively – any space with wet, organic material seems to attract them). When there are heavy rains, these ants tend to move inside to find shelter. Which is why April showers tend to bring more than May flowers for many residential buildings in the midwest.
Sometimes they enter homes purposely, however, in search of food. If you have sugary foods out in the open, beware! These ants typically feed on the honeydew produced by aphids, so they’ve got a particular sweet tooth.
If you’re wondering where they’ve set up shop inside your home, search for damp areas that mimick their preferred environment outside, such as laundry and furnace rooms.
Is it dangerous?
As much as, say, an earth worm is dangerous. So…no. You have very little to worry about except a swarm of freeloaders that will attack all of the food you have out in the open.
They don’t bite. They don’t possess stingers. And by all accounts, they’re not at all aggressive. This is definitely a low-threat level insect pest. Unless you’ve got a particularly refined sniffer.
The real issue is when they arrive in numbers they tend to be fairly difficult to get rid of. The best thing to do it so get rid of everything they might consider a food source and then don’t leave up their leaving your domicile to change. Take action by finding out where they’re congregating, and treating it immediately.
Because of their tiny size, they’ve evolved an uncanny knack for nesting in extremely hard to reach locations. The inside of walls, especially where moisture has built up, is an incredibly inviting environment for them. And this is why getting rid of them permanently can turn into such a herculean feat of strength and endurance.
We welcome people to try to get rid of these pernicious house guests on their own, but we always caution folks that getting rid of the root cause is far more important than getting rid of the ants you can see in front of you. There’s nothing wrong with spraying a can of DIY insecticide on the ones offending your eyes, but you’ll want to consult with someone about the best way of getting rid of these unwelcome house guests for good.
What should I do next?
Give us a call at (269) 424-3458. We’d be happy to walk you through both the removal AND prevention process. Once we’ve eliminated the pest problem, you’ll want to make sure you eliminate any of the tasty treats that brought them there in the first place. Things like wood piles next to the house, open trashcans near access points, any mounds of damp soil, etc. This will obviously vary depending upon the building and particular landscape, but the idea is to a) cut off access points and b) remove open access to discarded food items that might lure them in to begin with.
We’re here to assist! Give us a call at (269) 424-3458!