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Odorous House Ant


Actual Size: 1/16″ to 1/8″

Characteristics: Small, brown, or black insects. Emit a “rotten coconut” odor when crushed, which inspired their name. 

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Wings: The reproductive males and females have wings.

Habitat: Drawn to moisture, they nest in wall voids near water pipes, heaters, leaking fixtures, and damaged wood.


  • Nests within home wall voids near heat spots.
  • Favors sweets but will consume various household foods. 
  • Enters buildings during or after heavy rains, especially when plant honeydew is washed away.

Odorous House Ant

Odorous House Ants in Atlanta, GA

Odorous house ants emit a foul, coconut-like smell when crushed, hence their name. They pose a challenge to control within households due to their cooperative behavior between nests, enabling them to overpower invaded areas. Often termed “sugar ants,” they typically nest outdoors and feed on the honeydew from aphids and mealybugs. During rainy periods when plant honeydew washes away, they are more prone to invade homes.

Odorous House Ant Habitat

The odorous house ant is quite adaptable, shifting nests frequently and thriving in various environments. When choosing a spot, they typically nest in shallow soil beneath objects like boards or stones. They’re also drawn to stacked materials such as lumber, firewood, and cardboard. These ants venture into structures in search of food, often spotted in kitchen and food preparation areas. Inside, they favor spots near moisture, like wall voids near water pipes, heaters, and damaged wood.

Odorous House Ant Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers

While they generally prefer the outdoors and aren’t known to sting or bite, odorous house ants will venture into homes, especially during rainy periods. Inside, they scout for food, leaving trails across kitchen counters, cabinets, sinks, and baseboards. This activity poses a contamination risk to human food supplies. Ant workers and scouts leave nearly invisible scent trails leading from their food source back to their nest, enabling hundreds of workers to invade homes and commercial spaces. If you suspect an odorous house ant infestation, it’s advisable to contact a professional ant exterminator.