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Citronella Ants

image of citronella ant from above

Appearance & Identification

What does a citronella ant look like top view image of citronella ant
Citronella ants, also called “yellow ants” can range in colour from light-yellow to dark yellow or light-brown. The antennae have 12 segments with the last segments enlarging gradually towards the tip. Citronella ants can be distinguished from other ant species due to the tiny hairs on their heads, thoraxes, and abdomens and when crushed the workers, give off a lemon-like odour. Winged reproductives can sometimes be a darker red or brown colour. These are the citronella ants usually seen by homeowners, as workers rarely enter buildings or homes. There are two common species, the larger yellow ant (Acanthomyops interjectus), and the smaller yellow ant (Acanthomyops claviger). Both species can be found throughout North America.


Why should I be concerned?
Citronella ants are minor nuisance pests in and around homes. As mating swarms pick up in warmer months, they can come inside, especially when screens and doors have tears or gaps. Though they enter homes, these pests do not breed or cause structural damage. Still, citronella ant control is important because the insects can be bothersome. For example, as their name suggests, these pests are known to release a lemon or citronella odour when crushed or threatened.

Habitat and Diet

A day in the life of citronella ants
Since citronella ants are soil dwelling ants, they prefer to nest in warm, moist, concealed areas. They are typically found under logs or in gardens. They also build their nests under patios, concrete slabs, and in the soil around foundation walls. The subterranean colonies are rarely found indoors as these ants feed on the honeydew produced by aphids and mealybugs. However, they may find their way indoors as they travel across lawns, gardens, and wooded areas adjacent to the building. Swarmers (reproductives) can be found in and around homes in early spring and then again in late fall. Their presence is usually a strong indication that a nest is nearby.

Citronella ants are not known to reproduce indoors. The most common indication of an infestation is the sighting of the winged swarmers in the spring. Males and females will fly out of the nest to mate. While the males will soon perish, the females will establish new colonies.

Tips for prevention

These tips may help you get rid of Citronella Ants in your home:

  • Inspect interior and exterior walls for cracks and entryways
  • Repair or remove and damaged wood near the source
  • Move wood and other organic debris away from the exterior walls
  • Use a vacuum to collect and dispose of the ants indoors


As is the case for most insect pests, the best course of action to keep them out is to seal all possible entry points. Even though citronella ants are not known foragers, removing spilled foods and proper sanitation can help eliminate easy meals for the pests. Due to their feeding behaviour, baits do not work for these ants and store-bought baits and traps will not work.. For effective citronella ant control, contact trained pest professionals at Orkin Canada.
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