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Odorous Ants: Complete Facts on the Species


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Tapinoma sessile is a species of ants commonly referred to as odorous house ants, odorous ants, stink ants, coconut ants, or sugar ants. They earned these names in light of the distinctively foul odor they produce when crushed or threatened. A crushed Tapinoma sessile body emits the stench of rotten coconut.

No one likes the idea of ants moving around their house. But, unfortunately, odorous house ants are one of the most common household pests.

In this article, we’ll discuss the key things you need to know about this ant species and its infestations. So let’s get straight to it.

Background On Odorous House Ants

Like other eusocial animals, ants live in colonies. For example, a sugar ant colony consists of two or more odorous ant queens and over 100,000 worker ants.

Anatomically, these tiny ants have an unevenly shaped thorax and a node on their petioles that’s often concealed by their abdomen. The insects can be dark brown or black and are 2.4-3.3 mm in length.

In addition, the young odorous house ant takes roughly 24 days to reach adulthood, and the reproductive females lay one egg a day.

Odorous ants are constantly foraging for food. Because they prefer sweets, coconut ants feed on aphid’s honeydew, mealybugs’ honeydew, sugary and sticky food, and fruit juices. They also like to eat meats, dairy products, cooked or raw vegetables, pastries, plant secretions, fruit juices, and other insects.

Stink Ant Nests

These ants can nest indoors and outdoors. While out in nature, odorous house ants lodge their nests in shallow soil, logs, debris, and rocks. However, when their honeydew supply is scarce or in rainy conditions, they take their nests indoors.

Indoors, odorous house ants nest in walls, panels, insulation, electrical sockets, window frames, and pipes. You can also find their nests below floors, carpets, and toilet seats. Some of their favorite spots are near heaters and houseplants.

These ants move their nests frequently, as often as every three weeks.

Forming New Colonies

Odorous house ants can create new colonies using two different methods: swarming and budding.


Usually, a winged, reproductive male and female will take flight and mate during summertime. The fertilized female will then start a new colony.


A queen and some workers will break off the original colony to start a new one. Budding can be instigated when the ants get stressed out.

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Odorous House Ant Infestation

There are signs that alarm you of an odorous house ant infestation. The two most obvious ones are the foraging worker ants and the characteristic smell. Because stink ants forage day and night, you’ll be able to spot them looking for food near their preferred food sources.

Additionally, these ants produce their characteristic rotten coconut stench when they’re scared, so you might be able to catch the smell as they run away for safety. Some describe the rotten coconut as “sweet old pine,” so watch out for either.

You may also be able to spot the odorous ant swarms, but this isn’t as likely.

How Do You Get Rid Of Odorous House Ants?

These ants are a general nuisance to have around. If odorous ants gain access to your pantry or storage, they’ll contaminate food products. Additionally, odorous house ants bite. Despite their bites being rare, small, and relatively painless compared to those of other ants, they can still bite. However, this ant species isn’t usually interested in biting humans unless they need to protect their colonies.

So if you have a severe odorous ant infestation, you need to get rid of it. The best solution is to contact a professional pest control company when you find odorous house ants. However, extermination usually goes as follows:


The first step in infestation treatment is always to inspect the area, starting outside and moving your way in. First, the outside of your foundation is checked for ant mounds and possible entrances. Next, the inside is inspected for foraging ants, especially near high moisture or heat areas. Walls, floors, panels, insulation, electrical sockets, windows, pipes, and carpets are also checked.

Treating The Outdoors

If ant mounds could be found on the outside of your foundation, they’ll be drenched with suitable pesticides. Once all mounds are taken care of, the perimeter of your foundation is barrier sprayed to prevent future entry.

Treating The Indoors

When stressed, ants can break off, relocate, and start new colonies. So insecticide sprays, dust, and aerosols shouldn’t be used when the ants have already settled inside to avoid instigating this process. The best way to handle indoor nests is via baiting.

Because odorous house ants eat sweet, sugary foods, it’s easy to bait them. Slow-acting bait is usually the most effective, and both protein and sweet ant bait can be used. Baits can be bought or made at home.

Odorous House Ant Prevention

Getting rid of odorous ants isn’t an easy process. This is because one colony of these ants has multiple nests, queens, and colony sites. Therefore, the best way to control odorous ant infestations is to prevent them from happening in the first place.

Luckily, you can do a few things to prevent these house ants from infesting your space. So let’s have a look at them.

  • Seal up any cracks, openings, gaps, or crevices that the odorous house ant can gain access to your home through.
  • These insects are attracted to moisture, so remove any standing water and control other moisture sources.
  • If tree branches from the outside connect to your windows or doors, be sure to trim those as ants usually use them as bridges.
  • Don’t leave food, grease, or crumbs out in the open.
  • Clean regularly.

Bottom Line

All in all, odorous ants are considered one of the most common pests to infest homes and foundations. While they won’t cause property damage, these insects have a distinctive odor and will quickly colonize your space, contaminating the food they find.

Fortunately, there are preventive measures to stop these insects from infesting your space. However, if you have a severe infestation, contact professional pest control.