Odorous Ant Habits
Odorous house ants are very difficult to control because of their social behaviors. They have adapted to live in a wide variety of climates and environments, and commonly nest in sand, pastures, fields, forests, houses, and under stones or logs. They have also been found to nest under existing animal nests and under stumps or dead trees. Workers will collect honeydew from aphids and other insects and will actually protect them from other predators (they recognize that these insects provide a food source and are therefore worthy of protection). They will also eat a variety of foods, but tend to be more attracted to sweeter substances.
Because odorous house ants will have multiple queens within a colony, they will often separate (or “bud”) away from the main colony to start up a separate colony. They may do this by themselves, or they will often leave with other worker ants. This makes predicting their movements and behaviors difficult.
Worker odorous house ants can move very quickly, and when they are alarmed or perceive a threat, they will move erratically and release an alarm pheromone (this pheromone smells to many like coconut). When this pheromone is released, it acts as a signal to other ants that there is a threat and the “budding” behavior of evading attack intensifies. This also makes control difficult.
Odorous Ant Damage
Odorous house ants are not a structure-destroying pest in that they do not affect the wood or other features of a structure. However, many odorous house ant colonies will grow rapidly within a residential environment because of the ready availability of food and water sources. Their biology and behaviors contribute to a pest that will literally infest any area of the home, from the attic to the crawl space (or anywhere in between). We have found odorous house ant colonies inside of electronic devices, living in insulation, and in other areas that you might not anticipate. They are the most significant and bothersome nuisance pest that is frequently found in the region.
Biology of Odorous Ants
Odorous house ants are distributed throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico — but they tend to have very large populations in the Pacific Northwest. They are dark brown to black in appearance and are fairly small in size (about 3 millimeters in length). All workers are the same size, and odorous house ant colonies can consist of multiple queen ants.
Odorous House Ant Extermination and Control Requires Five Basic Steps:
- Inspection. Our initial inspection of the home and surrounding area can help us understand where potential nesting site(s) are located, any conducive conditions at the home that may be contributing to or accentuating the current infestation, and we can devise a strategy for treatment. No two homes are alike, and different odorous house ant colonies will respond differently to different products that are used and to different times of the year.
- Treatment. Based on our inspection, our understanding of odorous house ants and their biology, and our years of experience in treating odorous house ants, we will devise a treatment plan that works right from your home. Possible treatment options include wall void injections, different types of baits, and non-repellent liquid products that will not cause ants to “bud.”
- Patience. We understand how frustrating it is when the ants don’t go away immediately, but treatment generally takes time. If attempts are made to use over-the-counter pesticides or other products that we have not recommended, there exists the possibility that the ants will “bud” and the problem may become worse.
- Follow-up. Because odorous house ant problems can be so difficult to get under control, one or more follow-up visits will be necessary. At these visits we will assess current state of treatment and make any adjustments as necessary.
- Ongoing inspections and treatment. Odorous house ants are abundant in our region; we recommend regular quarterly inspections to catch problems before they get back into your home.