Odorous House Ant


Actual Size: 1/16″ to 1/8″

Characteristics: Brown or black in color. Get their name from the “rotten coconut” smell they produce when they are crushed.

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Wings: The reproductive males and females have wings.

Habitat: Will nest in wall voids near water pipes, heaters, leaking fixtures, and damaged wood are all ideal habitats.


  • Prefer sweets but will eat almost any household food.
  • Indoors, will usually nest in wall voids near heat sources.
  • Will nest outdoors under stones, planters, and indoors in wall voids near heat sources.

Odorous House Ants in Wisconsin

Odorous house ants are behind most ant infestations in homes. Their colonies can grow to be very large and new colonies are formed quickly. Odorous ant colonies contain two or more queens and more than 100,000 workers. Also referred to as sugar ants, odorous house ants emit an offensive smell when crushed. Kitchen cupboards and pantries are often popular locations for these ants. Odorous house ants forage for food day and night and prefer food rich in sweets and proteins.

Odorous House Ant Habitats

Outside, odorous house ants are often found in soil, mulch, debris, under rocks, and stacks of firewood. Often making their way inside for food, odorous house ants are typically found in kitchens. When they nest, they prefer areas with moisture—wall voids near water pipes, heaters, leaking fixtures, and damaged wood are all ideal habitats for them.

Odorous House Ant Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers

Odorous house ants do not sting or bite, however, their biggest threat is that they contaminate food as they forage indoors in large numbers. Colonies can have thousands of members, which makes elimination difficult. Like many species of ants, colonies consist of worker ants and scout ants who forage for food for the queen. Scout ants leave a scent trail from the food source back to their nest site. When worker ants follow the scent or pheromone trail to the food source in a home or structure, they can invade homes in large numbers. If an odorous house ant issue is suspected, it is best to contact a professional ant exterminator.