Odorous Ant Control
Ants use odors for communication. Scientists think this may be because ants spend a lot of time underground in their tunnels. When they are above ground, ants also use sounds and visual signals for communication.
Ants produce the chemical odors with special glands in their bodies. Scientists call these chemicals pheromones. An ant worker can produce several different pheromones. Since there can be thousands of ants in a colony, there would probably be a lot of pheromone (and odor) floating around in the atmosphere inside the nest. Many species of ants give off a distinctive odor. Some of these odors are very unpleasant.
Tapinoma sessile (Say) is a species of ant that is native to North America. When the workers are disturbed, they run around with their abdomens raised in the air. They give off an odor that reminds many people of rotten cocoanut. These ants are found in most areas of the United States. So many people have smelled the odor that these ants received the common name of Odorous House Ants.
Since the odorous house ant is so widespread, many people have seen the workers marching in a line. These small, dark ants enter homes through windows, vents, and cracks in the foundation. They make nests inside of walls and under the bases of cabinets.
The first step in controlling odorous house ants is a careful inspection. Begin outdoors and look for trails of ants, nesting sites, and any entryways they could be using. Store firewood on a rack and move it away from the house. Rake mulch and dead leaves away from the foundation. Trim any shrubs and tree limbs that are touching the house.
Caulk any openings around doors and windows. Make sure exterior doors close tightly and replace any missing weather-stripping. Repair any damaged screens on windows and vents – check the attic vents too.
Control of odorous house ants usually involves applying ant bait. If the trails lead outdoors, the bait can often be put outdoors. This will draw the ants out of the house. If the ants have made a nest indoors, it is sometimes necessary to drill tiny holes and apply insecticide dust inside the walls. Many homeowners find it easier to let pest control professionals take care of these pests.