Odorous House Ant

 

The pungent, "rotten-coconutlike" odor, given off when this ant is crushed, gives it is name. It is a native species and is found throughout the Kansas city area.

Odorous house ant workers, unlike those of carpenter ants, are monomorphic. That is, they are only of one size; about 1/16-1/8 inch long. The body is brown to black, with legs of amber color. The antenna is 12-segmented, without a club. The thorax (middle part of the body) lacks spines, with the top profile unevenly rounded. The abdomen has a slit-like anal opening, without a circlet of hairs around it. This ant has no stinger.

Biology

Colonies may be composed of several hundred to 100,000 ants. There are usually many queens in a colony. Individuals from different colonies are not hostile to one another. Developmental time (egg to adult) is 34-83 days, varying with temperature during summer months, and up to 6-7 months during the winter. Colonies typically produce 4-5 generations a year. Although they probably mate both inside and outside the nest, the first swarmers appear from May to mid-July in the Kansas City area.. The workers and queens live for several years.

Inside, these ants usually construct their nests in wall voids especially around hot water pipes and heaters, in crevices around sinks, cupboards, etc.

These ants prefer sweets but also eat foods with high grease content, such as meats and cheese. Outside, they are often found in the nest of larger ants, in exposed soil, but mostly under objects. Workers feed on insects and plant secretions, and even feed on seeds. They are extremely fond of honeydew and attend such honeydew- excreting insects as plantlice (aphids), scale insects, mealybugs, etc. They are most likely to enter buildings when their honeydew supply is reduced such as during rainy weather or with leaf fall in the autumn. Workers normally move along trails.

Control

Location of the nest(s) is crucial and can often be accomplished by following the trail of foraging workers back from the food source. Use of boric acid dust in the voids of outside ground-floor walls and infested interior walls, along with a barrier treatment is effective. Baiting is often required.