How To Get Rid of Odorous House Ants


The combination of warmer, rainy weather and variety in evergreen trees and other native greenery make Seattle, Portland, and the rest of the Pacific Northwest a perfect habitat for pests. As a local pest control company, Pest Pros knows springtime can bring a rise to pest infestations — in particular, odorous house ant infestations. Once the weather begins to warm up and bugs of all kinds awake from their winterly slumbers, odorous house ants begin to create nests outdoors in exposed soil, often looking for indoor habitats after heavy rainfall because honeydew is no longer available when wet outside. If you’ve discovered an infestation in your home, read on to determine how to get rid of odorous house ants.

What Are Odorous House Ants?

There are more than 12,000 species of ants globally, each with distinguishing characteristics.  Luckily for those reading this article, odorous house ants are one of the easiest species of ant to spot and identify; the most distinguishable characteristic of the odorous house ant — also known as, quite aptly, as the “stink ant” — is the pungent stink that permeates the nostrils when you squish them. Oftentimes, the smell is described as similar to “rotten coconut,” though several other interpretations have been thrown around the Pest Pros office. 

Smell aside, odorous house ants are colored black or brown, measuring 1.5-3mm long. These little stinkers are tiny which makes it harder to deal with a house ant infestation, especially without professional services.

Odorous House Ants vs. Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are much larger than your typical house or sugar ant — measuring at a quarter-to-half-inch length. The most notable difference between odorous house ants and carpenter ants, however, is actually their diet; carpenter ants, as their name indicates, target wood to turn into a nest for their colony, posing a real threat to the structural integrity of your home. They will also leave behind wood shavings, called “frass.” If you discover signs of a carpenter ant infestation, be sure to contact a professional pest control company such as Pest Pros to determine how to get rid of carpenter ants in your house.

Odorous House Ants vs. Pavement Ants

Another notable type of ant that you should be aware of is pavement ants, which are similar to odorous house ants in both size and color. Appropriately named, they often set up shop in the cracks of the sidewalk outside your house. 

Pavement ants are similar to carpenter ants in the way that they nest in houses. These pests create piles of dry particles and loose sand across tiles, baseboards, window sills, expansion joints, and other small enclosures in homes. If you discover signs of a pavement ant infestation, be sure to contact a professional pest control company such as Pest Pros.

Odorous House Ants
Pavement Ants
Carpenter Ants

Do Odorous House Ants Bite? 

The question on everyone’s mind! We’re regularly asked whether odorous house ants bite, and we’re here to relieve you of any worries on that front: no, odorous house ants do not bite, nor do they typically pose any real threat to humans. For this reason, most ants — along with other pests like flies and beetles — are often considered “nuisance pests.”

Why Do You Need To Worry About Odorous House Ants Infesting Your Home?

While small in physical stature, the danger of odorous house ants comes solely from the size of their colonies. If you spot one ant in your home, you can bet there are more; ants can create scent trails throughout your home, counters, and cabinets that can lead to an entire ant infestation. These ants’ small stature means they can sneak into your home even with good insulation, primarily looking for nutrients for their colony. Their colonies can quickly go from several ants to hundreds of thousands, making it a serious nuisance for homeowners.

Ants can be drawn to your home for many reasons, especially in areas that are kept unclean, house food, and other sweet substances. Infestations aren’t a matter of putting on your big shoes and stomping around until you’ve wiped out an entire civilization of house ants; these pests are persistent and tough to kill.

If you’re dealing with an ant infestation, you’ve got quite the challenge on your hands. It’s best to call a pest control company.

Signs You May Have an Odorous House Ant Infestation

It’s not too hard to identify an odorous house ant infestation given the number of house ants colonies and their speediness to infest; you’ll see them scurrying across your floors and counters once they’ve made their way inside your home. Because of their distinct smell when squished, odorous house ants are particularly easy to identify if you accidentally step on one. 

Furthermore, ants will swarm during the summer months while winged ants will materialize near the nest. Swarmers are a clear indicator that there’s an infestation present. While it doesn’t take a professional to recognize signs of an ant infestation, it does take a professional to exterminate an ant infestation; be sure to contact a professional pest control company.

How To Get Rid of Odorous House Ants

Getting rid of odorous house ants, or really any pest infestation, can be incredibly nuanced; unless a homeowner has an expert understanding of the behavior of each species of pest, the infestation often returns or worsens after DIY attempts, frustrating the homeowner and making it more difficult for a pest control company to resolve the issue once they’ve been called. Odorous house ants can be particularly tricky as the smell they emit when killed can signal other ants to leave their nests and swarm your home. 

The most effective way to get rid of odorous house ants in your home is to call a licensed professional, preferably one based locally with expert knowledge of odorous house ants in the PNW. To somewhat-unsubtly throw our name in the hat: Pest Pros is one such pest control company, and we’d love to help you rid your home of ants. Get a no-cost estimate on your home to determine the cost of pest control services for your unique situation.

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To give you an idea of how a professional would get rid of odorous house ants in your house, we’ve outlined our typical process below:

Step 1: Inspection – Once the Pest Pros professional arrives on site, they will complete a full inspection of your home. They will inspect areas where these tiny ants are commonly found, including within walls near hot water pipes, crevices, heaters, sinks — and anywhere where sugar may be found. 

Step 2: Treatment – After identifying the areas of your home the odorous house ants are living, the pest control professional will use commercial products to treat target areas, including:

  • Treating around the foundation of your home. Ants are very social creatures, so, by treating the foundation of your home, the repellent will spread to every ant that the treated ant interacts with. After 2–3 weeks, professionals will return to the treated area to assess if there is any activity and if the treatment was successful.
  • Drilling tiny holes in the wallboard, and injecting repellent into holes.
  • Treating the interior of your home with repellent during late fall (when ants go dormant). To ensure the safety of the homeowners, professionals like Pest Pros will use a nicotine-based product that human residents of the home cannot absorb; they also ensure the usage instructions are followed, such as the number of hours residents should avoid the home after treatment, either exactly or more conservatively for the safety of the homeowners. 

Step 3: Ant Exclusion & Maintenance – Our commercial products typically last for 6–8 weeks. Maintenance will be required to prevent the odorous house ants from returning. The maintenance program and intensity will depend on the season and the severity of the problem after an inspection of your home. 

There are certainly things a homeowner can do on their own to prevent another infestation; in fact, following proper exclusion steps on your own is the most natural and effective way to get rid of odorous house ants in your home. No products needed! 

Give these a try: 

  • Remove external access points of your home by trimming back shrubs and trees since ants will find and burrow through cracks after climbing plants. 
  • Clean your surfaces and wipe down counters after use to stop ants from feasting on grease and crumbs.
  • When cooking in the kitchen or eating in various rooms, tightly cover food and properly store it.
  • Remove pet food bowls when your animal pals are done with their meals. Ants don’t discriminate against dog or cat food–neither will mice, cockroaches, or other pests. They want to eat, too! 

Each of these steps can be taken in your daily life to prevent pest infestations and maintain a clean and healthy home.

Call Pest Pros For Odorous House Ant Extermination 

With all that said, odorous house ants and other infesting ants can be a pain to deal with in your home. Even if you have some success, the sheer quantity of ants in a colony means you likely haven’t gotten rid of all of them. 

Where are you to turn if you’ve tried both preventive and extermination solutions and still have a pest problem? Pest Pros, a team of licensed professionals working for you, is here to be your partner in protecting the investment you have made in your home. There are many benefits to having the maintenance pest control service with Pest Pros. When we do find something that is or could be contributing to pest activity, we will make recommendations on correcting the condition.

Our team is prompt, professional, and dedicated to taking care of any and all pest problems in your home and getting your life back to normal. Call us or contact us for your free estimate today!