Their name alone is enough to make you cringe, but what should you do when you find one (or probably more) of these critters living in your home? How can you prevent an infestation, and why on earth do they stink? Read on for answers to these questions and more!

What is an odorous house ant?

Just as its name suggests, an odorous house ant is a common subspecies of ant known for its stench. Odorous house ants are tiny and move quickly. They live in very large colonies and tend to move their nests often. They prefer to eat sweet items like sap, but their diets are fairly diverse.

Are they dangerous to me or my home?

Odorous ants do not sting or bite. While having an odorous house ant infestation is certainly a nuisance, it isn’t necessarily harmful to you or your family. Odorous ants are attracted to food sources and typically confine their damage to your pantry. Because they cohabitate in such large numbers, once you have an infestation, it is nearly impossible to rid them on your own.

Why do they smell?

The stench from an odorous house ant has been likened to that of a rotten coconut or blue cheese. The science behind their smell is thoroughly explained in this article, “Crushed Ants Smell Like Blue Cheese and Piña Coladas Gone Bad,” but the gist of it is actually really fascinating! What you’re smelling after you crush an odorous ant is a scent component that is common to both blue cheese and penicillin. Scientists have concluded that the ants must contain an antimicrobial substance, and that substance is what causes the foul omission when the ant is squashed.

How can you identify odorous house ants?

Odorous ants are small, between 1/8” and 3/16” in length, with either a dark brown or black abdomen. Their bodies are smooth and hairless, and they have six legs and two antennae like other ant species.

How can you prevent odorous house ants from getting into your home?

There are several ways to prevent odorous house ants from getting into your home and reduce the chance of infestation. First, be sure to trim all bushes, trees, and shrubbery so that they are away from your home. Overgrown plants provide the perfect path to the façade of your home, where the odorous ants can enter from any cracks or crevices. Second, be sure to keep all food, including your pet’s food, covered tightly. Don’t leave crumbs on the floor, and be sure to wipe up spills quickly. Finally, don’t keep food (sealed or not) in your garage. Any food will attract ants and pests of all kinds. If ants have found their way into your garage, the interior of your home will be their next stop.

How can you get rid of them?

There are a few different ways that you can address an ant problem once they have found their way into your home.


Bait has been found to be the best way to eliminate ants within your home. The bait should be placed where you have seen the ants. If it doesn’t seem like it’s working at first, be patient. Eventually, worker ants will take the bait back to the nest and spread the insecticide, killing the queen and the rest of the colony. You may need to try several different kinds of bait before the workers take it.

Indoor Sprays

Indoor insecticide sprays can be a temporary fix, but sprays are merely treating the symptom, not the actual problem. Spraying worker ants in your home will just leave the existing scent trail for other worker ants to follow right back into your home.

Perimeter Treatment

Using an outdoor insecticide around the perimeter of your home can help you prevent ant infestation. Be sure to follow the instructions; the insecticide may need to be reapplied for the best results.

Should I contact a professional?

If your ant problem is becoming overwhelming, it may be time to call a professional. A professional pest control company will be able to find the nest, properly shield your property, and eradicate the ants within your home.

If you’re in need of a pest control professional in the Des Moines area, contact Springer! Their trained professionals will be able to detect and eliminate your ant problem and get your home back to normal.

What Should I Do About Odorous House Ants in My Home? in Des Moines

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