One of the most common ants in West Tennessee is the Odorous House Ant, or Tapinoma
sessile in Latin. What a name! Why couldn’t it be The Mighty Volunteer Ant, or something cool
like that. The Odorous House Ant? What?
Well, it’s true and we’re stuck with them. What do they really smell like? Some have described
their flora as rancid butter, cleaning solution, coconuts, and blue cheese. Others liken them to
the smell of urine. Ewww! Actually, there have been sniff tests done on our little friend, The
Odorous House Ant, and the two top picks were rotten coconuts at 25% of the testers, and blue
cheese at a whopping 35%. Me, I smell urine!
Ants live in a world of chemical signals, and many are specific to a given species. There are
literally thousands of ant species in North America and a quick field sniff can help identify them
without the use of a microscope.
Take for example the Carpenter Ant. It releases a formic acid and smells a little like vinegar. The
Citronella Ant has a tantalizing lemony scent when crushed. The Odorous House Ant … urine!
So why does this even matter? Who goes around sniffing ants anyhow? This ant is tough, really
tough; injured workers have been observed to continue living and working with
out even slowing down.
Some queens with crushed abdomens still lay eggs, and there are documented instances of
queens surviving without food or water for over two months.
They are also very tolerant totemperature change and can easily handle hot and cold extremes.
They tend to have multiple colonies and therefore are very spread out and able to cover large
amounts of area. The Odorous House Ant is a scavenger ant that will eat most household foods,
especially foods that contain sugar. These little guys tend to invade homes after heavy rains –
which we’ve had our fair share of this Summer.
All in all, they’re just really pesty pests and they can get out of hand in a hurry!
It’s always best to attempt control of them as soon as you see them. And how will you know if they’re Odorous
House Ants … yep, just squeeze one and sniff!
Just a couple of quick things you can do if you spot, or sniff, them:
• eliminate standing water
• trim back bushes and plants away from the house
• remove firewood, rocks, and anything else stored against the house
• caulk holes, cracks and joints around the house with clear silicone caulking
If you need help, or you just can’t see yourself sniffing on any ants, please don’t hesitate to give
us a call – we’ll smell them all!