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Odorous House Ants: One Nose-Wrinkling Pest Problem That’s Best Solved Now

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“Phew, that stinks!” It’s an all too common phrase used to describe scents that assault the nose and offend the soul. As humans, we’ve all had those odorous moments but thankfully, they’re generally brief. Not so with Tapinoma sessile. Considered members of the Dolichoderinae Subfamily, foul odours are more than just passing phases. They’re signals of danger and death. That’s why scientists and pest control Omaha, NE companies from Omaha also call them odorous ants. What makes their deaths more odorous than other members of the Hymenoptera Order?

Let’s take a closer whiff and find out:

An Ant By Any Other Name

At first sniff, they look and smell like any other ant. There’s a segmented body, antennae, mandibles, six legs, spiracles, compound and simple eyes. Those features enable odorous ants to move quickly when need be and achieve the ranges they need to find food as well as water. Of course those features are also helpful when it comes to avoiding Omaha, NE pest control professionals.  Thankfully, our team is experienced enough to know how to work around the ant colonies’ best defenses.

And then there are visually notable differences between odorous ants and the others too. Among them are a seemingly misplaced gaster, diminutive petiole node and an unusual, anal pore. Are they why these insects are capable of making humans wrinkle up their noses in obvious disgust? In three words, the answer is “yes and no.” Like all members of the Tapinoma Genus, the gaster contains a complex mix of life-sustaining fluids and we’re not just talking about hemolymph.

Eew! What’s That Funky House Smell?

It also contains a variety of chemicals that ants use to communicate with one another. One of them is methyl ketone. It’s an organic compound that gives off a very strong, nose-twisting odor. The ants generally use it to signal mortal danger and ultimately death. So unless the odorous ant is under serious attack, gravely injured or squashed outright, it will be hard for humans to catch a whiff of the chemical compound. That’s why our initial answer was “yes and no.”

In order for the smell to be detected, the gaster has to be broken open or the ant has to expel the chemical by other means. For example, the odorous ant may use its petiole node to move the gaster towards a perceived threat. Once the gaster is facing the assumed attacker, the determined ant may then release the methyl ketone through its anal pore in that direction as a warning to its colony members to stay away or seek shelter.

It’s Not the Smell We Hate

So if the odorous ant isn’t always stinking up the place, why do humans typically hate it so much? For one, these ants are true survivors. Over the eons, they’ve developed the ability to:


  • Nest in various places, including near competitors

  • Remember viable, foraging areas

  • Procreate often and overwinter successfully

  • Eat a variety of pet and human foods


Consequently, they can easily wreak havoc year after year in the same locations. These locations include but aren’t limited to gardens, pet areas, pantries and other areas where their favorite foods are found in mass. And therefore, the best times to exterminate them are when the colonies are preparing to overwinter or expand. For many property owners in Omaha, that means making a call now to pest control companies experienced in dispatching odorous ants.

It’s Time to Say, “Smell You Later”

At Miller Pest & Termite, we understand that living with odorous ants is one problem that stinks above all others and we can help with our free inspections. Once found, our dedicated team can rid properties of colonies now, before they’ve had a chance to expand in the spring. To learn more about how we find and kill odorous ants in the fall, please contact us today.