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Odorous House Ants

Odorous House Ant (Tapinoma sessile)

This native species, found throughout the United States, produces a foul odor when crushed. The crushed ant smells like a "rotten coconut," thus leading to its name. Odorous house ants are small, and can be found both inside and outside.


The workers are about 1/16-1/8" long. The body is brown to black. The antennae have 12 segments.


Females in the nest lay one egg daily. It takes an average of 24 days for the young to reach adulthood. The nest colonies range from 100 to 10,000 ants. Interestingly enough, although odorous ants will defend their nest, they can be driven away by invading Argentine ants.


Odorous house ants forage day and night. The nests can occur in a great variety of settings. Inside, these ants usually construct their nests in wall voids, especially around hot water pipes and heaters, in crevices in sinks, cupboards, etc.

Outside, they are found in exposed soil, usually shallow, often located beneath a board, brick, stone walk, etc. Odorous house ants are most likely to enter buildings when their honeydew supply or sweet supply of food is reduced by extended periods of rainy weather or with leaf fall in the autumn.


Odorous house ants can feed on anything: insects, honeydew, seeds, plant secretions, etc. They do prefer sweets. They are extremely fond of honeydew and follow or pursue such honeydew-excreting insects as plant lice (aphids), scale insects, mealybugs, etc.

For information on other types of ants, please select one of the following links:

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