Another species of ant native to North America is the odorous house ant. Fairly standard in size across all the workers within the colony, they typically are no more than an eighth of an inch in length. Color of the workers ranges from brown to black. Their name comes from the fact that when crushed, these insects give off a foul, rotten smell.
Odorous house ants live in colonies that can grow quite large. However, they often prefer smaller colonies, still housing thousands of ants but not nearly as large of colonies as some ants, like the Argentine ant. Like most ants, they are beholden to a queen, but there are often multiple queens within even the smaller colonies. The bulk of the colony consists of worker ants, who are fast moving, if orderly – they move in single-file lines.
Unsurprisingly, these ants are often found raising and protecting aphids, as these small, plant-feeding insects create a sweet, sticky substance called honeydew. This honeydew is one of odorous house ants’ favorite foods, although anything sweet or sugary will do. They will often invade homes in search of sweets. When they are unable to find sweet foods, dead insects and greases will do, and most human foods are fair game.
Nesting locations for these ants vary. When formed outside, nests are typically underneath rocks or boards, somewhere enclosed, however, they are no stranger to nesting within human structures. For these nests, they are most often located in areas high in heat and moisture. Eliminating areas of moisture within your home can help to prevent these ants from moving into your home. Once in, however, professional control is likely needed. Baits are the best option for these ants, as residual sprays or dusts will cause stress on the colonies, causing them to split into sub-colonies that scatter to other areas in the structure.
Did You Know?
Odorous house ants will move into abandoned termite or carpenter ant nests if these areas have not been sealed off or repaired.