Odorous Ants

odorous ants
Courtesy of University of Nebraska-Lincoln

The Odorous House Ant (Tapinoma sessile) is a native species, found throughout the United States. It earns its name by producing a foul, "rotten coconut" odor when crushed.

They are often confused with the pavement ants, but has only 1 node.




The workers are about 1/16–1/8-inch (2.4–3.25mm) long. The body is brown to black in color. The antennae have 12 segments.



Females in the nest lay one egg daily. It takes an average of 24 days for the young to reach adulthood. Colony size ranges from 100 to 10,000 Ants, and can be easily driven away by invading Argentine Ants.



They forage day and night The nests can occur in a great variety of situations. Inside, these Ants usually construct their nests in wall voids, especially around hot water pipes and heaters, in crevices, sinks, cupboards, etc. Outside they are found in exposed soil, usually shallow, often located beneath a board, brick, stone walk, etc. They are most likely to enter buildings when their honeydew supply or sweet supply of food is reduced by natural occurances such as rainy weather or autumn leaf fall.



They can feed on anything such as insects, honeydew, seeds, and plant secretions, but do prefer sweets. They are extremely fond of honeydew and attend such honeydew-excreting insects as plantlice (aphids), scale insects, and mealybugs.



Ant Trails

Odorous ants as well as other ants lay down a chemical trail of pheromones. Ant trails occur between nest sites and food sources. When baiting it is important to look for their trails and place the bait there.


How to Get Rid of Odorous Ants

Unless you use a non-repellent spray such as Taurus SC, baiting is the preferred treatment over typical residual spraying. Baiting is the most reliable way to eliminate the entire colony. When choosing Ant baits, it is best to choose from both the sugar-based baits and protein/grease-based baits. If using a spray, choose a non-repellent type unless you are treating the nest itself.

Why Ant Bait?

The use of residual sprays or dusts stress Ant colonies, causing them to split into sub-colonies and scatter. This scattering, also called budding, multiplies the number of Ant colonies, and thereby multiplies your Ant problem.

When you bait, use a slow-acting bait. Quick-kill insecticides and baits will only kill the foraging Ants, not allowing those worker Ants to take the bait back home to feed the queen, nest workers, and brood.

If the Ant bait that you are currently using is not effective (if the Ants are not visiting the bait) you will need to change the baits. Slow-acting baits provide a variety of the foods the Ants find in nature. Examples are: other insects (proteins/grease-based baits), nectar, aphid honeydew, and plant products (sugar and carbohydrates found in sweet-based baits).

Choosing a bait requires an understanding of the nutritional needs of the colony. To be sure that you have all the baiting needs met, you may want to be ready with a sugar/carbohydrate-based bait, a grease/fat-based bait, and a protein-based bait.




Recommended Ant Baits
(Sweet and Protein/Grease Feeding Cycles)

When in doubt of which one to choose, choose one from each category. We also carry baits that feed both cycles.

For the
Protein /Grease feeding cycles:

Advance375 A Ant Bait : for protein/grease feeding cycles


Maxforce Ant Bait Stations
for protein/grease feeding cycles


Sweet Feeding Cycles:


gelanimo intice ant bait
Intice Gelanimo Ant Bait
for sweet cycles-not messy, particularly good for Odorous Ants


Optigard Ant Bait Gel for sugar feeding cycles excludes Fire, Harvester, and Pharaoh Ants

The powerful, slow-acting non-repellent active ingredient, thiamethoxam in Optigard Ant Gel knocks out workers, brood, and queens.

Maxforce Ant Killer Ant Bait Gel for sweet feeding cycles


Baits that feed both Protein /Grease and Sweet cycles:

maxforce complete granulars
Maxforce Complete Bait Granulars for protein/grease/sugar feeding cycles


invict ab insect paste

InVict AB Insect Paste is an all around insect bait containing 0.05% Abamectin (botanical insecticide)
Invict AB Insect Paste has a range of attractants including sweet, oil, and protein attractants (but no peanut products). Not only will it kill Ants, killing the whole colony quickly, but it effectively eliminates Roaches, reducing the need for two different bait formulations.

Non-Repellents For Outside and Inside Ant Control

Spraying for Odorous Ants with Non-Repellents

The best insecticides for Ant control are non-repellent insecticides such as Taurus SC, Termidor SC, Optigard Flex, Alpine Aerosol, and Phantom Aerosol. Termidor SC and Taurus SC are labeled for inside usage.

Unless you can treat the nest directly, spraying is not an effective solution for Odorous House Ants, unless you use a non-repellent insecticide or "undetectable" liquid treatments such as Phantom Aerosol or Alpine Aerosols (both labeled for inside use). Optigard Flex is another very good non-repellent, also labeled for inside use and very effective against Odorous Ants.

Unlike older insecticides, non-repellent insecticides can't be smelled, tasted, or even felt by pests. They crawl through the treated area, and ingesting treated materials or merely contacting the residual insecticide results in their eventual death. This type of control is incompatible with treatments such as repellent sprays that prevent workers from delivering the non-repellent insecticide residue to the nest.