Odorous ants are very opportunistic; living in a variety of nesting sites, moving constantly to avoid poor weather conditions. Not only will you find huge supercolonies, but many satellite colonies located close to the main colony. The name is derived from the fact that when these ants are crushed or stepped on. They are also known as stink ants and coconut ants.
Appearance and Identification
While odorous house ants often construct their nests outdoors, these 2 to 3 mm long pests easily enter buildings looking for food sources. They are dark grey or brown in colour and named after the rotten, earthy smell they emit when smashed. Colonies consist of several thousand workers, which makes odorous ant control difficult.
Why should I be concerned?
Despite their minuscule size, these ants pack a punch in the form a pungent odour that you’re sure to notice. While the nuisances don’t cause major structural damage or pose health risks, it’s still important to remove odorous ants. Additionally, an odorous ant colony is able to reproduce multiple times throughout the year, which means infestations can quickly grow out of control. Control and removal of these pests is therefore a very delicate task to minimize collateral damage. Contamination of human and pet food with their excrement is the primary concern. The smell may become a source of embarrassment and discomfort if you have guests in your home, or customers at your place of business.
Habitat and Diet
A day in the life of odorous ants
Odorous ants are active year-round throughout Canada. They can be found around beaches, bogs, and swamps but are best known for invading homes. Minuscule cracks along foundations, around windows, and near utility lines are exploited by odorous ant infestations for entry. When indoors, they colonize areas around hot water pipes and heaters, attracted to the warmth and moisture. Outdoors, odorous ants build shallow nests by digging underground and piling dirt into mounds.
Workers will travel great distances while foraging for food. As odorous ants search for food indoors they can create trails along cupboards, sinks and appliances which can contaminate food. When they find sustenance indoors, the odorous ant leaves behind a scent trail, which brings additional pests to the area. Typical food sources include dairy products, vegetables, and fruits, though lunchmeats, sugary foods, and crumbs are also favourites.
These pests are quite resourceful, willing to pick things up and move their nest if conditions are unfavourable. With a healthy colony containing as many as 100,000 workers, you need to be sure you deal with the infestation properly the very first time. Otherwise you may find yourself with two or more colonies budding from the original.
Tips for Prevention
These tips may help you prevent odorous ants in your home:
- Food debris and crumbs will attract ants indoors
- Reduce unnecessary moisture by correcting dripping faucets or condensation
- Wood piles should be moved away from structures
- Overhanging trees should be pruned or trimmed so that they are not in contact with the structure
Control and Removal
Odorous ant control should begin with exclusion methods, such as caulking cracks near vents and sealing gaps around utilities. Crevices within walls are common problem areas, as well as underneath sinks and near bathtubs where moisture accumulates. Since the pests love crumbs and clutter, cleaning countertops and vacuuming daily can help limit their numbers. Though some homeowners turn to insecticide treatments to get rid of odorous ants, this can be ineffective. For stubborn infestations, turn to the pest professionals at Orkin Canada instead.
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