How to Get Rid of Odorous House Ants: A Complete Guide

Odorous house ants are one of the most common household ants. They live in cracks, crevices, or wherever they find safe shelter and easy access to food. These ants are drawn to your house due to harsh weather or poor sanitary conditions. The small infestation of odorous house ants usually won’t cause any problem.

However, more established colonies of these ants can be a source of nuisance and they can also bring some diseases in your house. Therefore, you should act immediately to eliminate odorous house ants infestation before any problem arises. This article provides detailed information on the odorous house ants and the step by step instructions on how to get rid of them.

How to get rid of odorous house ants? There are multiple steps you need to take in order to get rid of odorous house ants. The first one is the inspection of the infested area. The second step is the insecticide application, such as ant baits, sprays, and insecticide dust. Preventing or making sure that they never come back is the last step.

Ant Exterminators

In the first step, you need to thoroughly inspect and investigate the infested area. Locate the ant trails, ant mounds, and their entry points to get an idea about the level of infestation in your indoor or outdoor settings.

The next step is the application of insecticide using a suitable treatment method. Some of the best treatment methods are ant baits or traps, insecticide sprays, control solutions, and insecticide dust. Apply the insecticide at the entry points, trails, and mounds of the odorous house ants to get rid of their entire colonies. You can also combine multiple methods for instant results. 

The last step is the prevention of re-establishment of odorous house ants. Seal all the cracks and entry points in your house, and take care of cleanliness to stop their re-infestation.

In the following section, we have given a detailed control guide for odorous house ants and prevention tips. In addition, we also provided you with some DIY natural methods to get rid of odorous house ants infestation. Let’s begin!

Odorous House Ants | Information

What Are Odorous House Ants?

Odorous house ants (Tapinoma sessile) are very small ant species. They are also known as stink ants or coconut ants. These ants are 2.4 mm to 3.3 mm (3/32″ to 1/8″) long and have a dark brown to black appearance. The antennae of odorous ants have 12 segments and the thorax appears asymmetrical when viewed from the side. 

These ants have a caste system (workers, male and female reproductive), each hierarchy performs a specific task. Male winged odorous house ant is responsible for only the mating process during the breeding season.

Queen lays eggs to establish a colony, while the workers do most of the heavy work. Worker ants collect food and support the entire colony.

Odorous House Ants Queen

Each colony of odorous house ants can contain multiple active queens. The survival of the colony depends upon the queen which lays eggs. A queen lays about 350 eggs in the course of a season and has a life span of more than one year.

Odorous Ants With Wings

Male and female reproductive odorous ants are also known as winged swarmers. These ants can be seen near light sources during the mating season. They swarm during spring or early summer season but only for a short time period.

After mating, the female queen flies back to the original nest or to a new nesting site to establish a new colony. The male reproductives usually die (in 1 week to 10 days) after mating.

Where Do Odorous House Ants Live?

The odorous house ants are native to the United States (North America). They can be found in Canada, Mexico, the Atlantic Coast, West Coat, and in different areas of New England. 

The odorous ants nest both in outdoor and indoor settings. In outdoors, odorous house ants build their shelters in hollow trees, under stones and moist soil, moist logs, firewood, and debris, in the cracks, bricks or under pavements, etc.

These ants move indoors during extreme weather or heavy rain. Indoors, they live in wall voids, cracks, behind cabinets, near water heaters or pipelines, under kitchen or bathroom sinks, beneath plant pots, or anywhere near moisture.

Do Odorous Ants Have an Odor?

Do Odorous Ants Have an Odor

The odorous house ants produce a foul smell like rotten coconut when they get squashed and that is exactly why they are named odorous ants, coconut ants, or stinky ants. The odor from these ants is comparable to some rotten foods due to similarities with the penicillium mold smell.

Are Odorous House Ants Dangerous?

The odorous house ants are not considered dangerous. However, in bigger numbers, they can cause havoc. These ants can carry harmful microorganisms into your house from outdoor trash bins or from other contaminated sites.

According to some reports, the queens of odorous ants can survive without food or water for 2 months. They are highly tolerant of cold or heat which makes their eradication more difficult. Therefore, you should not ignore the odorous house ant invasion during the early stages of their development.

What Do Odorous House Ants Eat?

Odorous house ants can eat a variety of foods. For example, they can eat both sugar-based and greasy (protein) based foods but they prefer sweet food more such as jams, jellies, juices, cakes, donuts, fruits, pastries, dairy products, etc. 

The spilled food item on the kitchen floor or at the kitchen counter can attract odorous house ants instantly. They remain active during the day and night. When they are outside in the garden, these ants forage for honeydew-producing insects and for rotten food items like meat or other pet leftovers.

The odorous house ants prey upon aphids, mealybugs, and other insects. The aphids take honeydew from plants and digest it but they are later robbed by odorous house ants.

Related: What Do Ants Eat? | Ant Feeding Habits

Do Odorous House Ants Bite?

The odorous house ants are not aggressive in nature. They do not have a stringer and usually do not bite. Although, they will defend their colony against invaders and can bite to protect themselves just like other ants. However, their bites don’t cause much pain.

Related: Ant Bites: Identification, Treatment, Allergic Reactions & More

Odorous House Ants vs Carpenter Ants: Difference

The odorous house ants and carpenter ants can be differentiated by their appearance and size. The odorous house ants are smaller (up to 3 mm or 1/8″ long) than carpenter ants (up to 12 mm or 15/32″ long). Odorous ants are dark brown to black in color, while on the other hand carpenter ants have a reddish-black body.

Carpenter ants produce formic acid when they get crushed which smells like vinegar whereas smashed odorous ants produce the rotten coconut-like smell. The odorous house ants do not cause any structural damage whereas carpenter ants excavate wooden structures to build their shelters.

Related: How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants Without an Exterminator

How to Get Rid of Odorous House Ants: Step by Step Instructions

Getting Rid of Odorous House Ants

The odorous house ants are one of the most common house invading ants. Our integrated pest management strategy will help to permanently eliminate these ants in your house and outdoors.

Our guide includes different steps such as inspection, treatment (using one or more methods), and tips for preventing the re-establishment of odorous house ants. Now let’s start with our detailed guide!

Step 1: Inspection of Infested Sites

The first step is the investigation or inspection of potential nesting sites, entry points, and mounds of odorous house ants. Inspect all of the wall voids, cracks, dark and narrow spaces near moisture which can provide shelter to odorous house ants. 

This is one of the most important steps in getting rid of these ants. You need to identify the pest before the application of insecticide. The accurate inspection will help you to determine the best treatment method and the required quantity of the insecticide for the infested areas.

Step 2: Application of Insecticide | Odorous Ant Killers

After the inspection of the infested areas, choose one or multiple treatment methods to get rid of the odorous house ant colony. In the following sections, you will find several treatment methods that will help you to eradicate them effectively.

• Ants Baits or Ant Traps for Odorous House Ants

Ant baiting is the most powerful and effective methods for getting rid of the odorous house ant infestation in your homes or outdoors (gardens).

Simply, take an ant bait and place it at the entry points, near ant trails, and close to nesting sites. Ants will take the bait back to their nests and after they consume it, the poisonous bait will kill the entire colony including the queens.

This whole process is effective but it takes time to take effect. There are different baits available commercially for ant extermination such as sugar-based baits and greasy or protein-based baits. The following baits will work on odorous house ants:

TERRO 1806 Outdoor Liquid bait

Terro 1806 Outdoor Liquid Ant Baits, 1.0 fl. oz. - 6 count
  • Kills the ants you see and the ants you don’t
  • Pre filled bait stations are ready to use
  • Contains sodium tetraborate decahydrate (Borax) (5.40%) and other...
  • Flexible placement: in the ground using the stakes or on decks,...
  • Patented station protects the bait from the elements, prevents it...

The TERRO 1806 Outdoor Liquid bait comes with 6 pre-filled ready to use bait stations. These stations protect the bait from drying. It contains borax which act as an active ingredient that kill odorous house ants. This is a sugar-based bait and it can be used for both indoor and outdoor treatment.

TERRO T300 Liquid Ant Bait

TERRO T300B Liquid Ant Killer, 12 Bait Stations
  • Attracts & Kills – Kills common household ants including...
  • Kills the Ants You See & the Ones You Don't – As worker ants...
  • Works Fast – You should see a significant decrease in the...
  • Ready to Use – Place the bait stations, watch it attract ants,...
  • Use Throughout Your Home – Place stations near areas where...

TERRO T300 Liquid Ant Bait is one of the best ant killer products. This bait has an easy to use snap-off design. Simply put the pre-filled bait stations near the infested areas in order to get rid of the odorous house ants. It is also effective for several other ant species.

RESCUE! Ant Baits for Indoor Use

RESCUE! Ant Baits – Indoor Ant Killer, Ant Trap Alternative - 6 Bait Stations
  • Child-Resistant Design - Lab tested against child tampering,...
  • No Mess - Ant Bait stations are ready to use and activate with no...
  • Kills Ants at the Source - Ants take bait back to the nest and...
  • Visible Results Overnight – Dual bait technology starts working...
  • Made in the USA – At RESCUE!, our goal is to design and...

The RESCUE! Ant Bait is also a good ant killer with 6 bait stations for indoor infestations. This bait is child and pet resistant which means that it will be hard for pets and children to open this container. This is a fast-acting dual formula (sugar-based and protein-based) gel bait. The active ingredient used inside of the bait is borax.

Bayer 10069 Maxforce FC Killer Gel

Bayer 10069 Maxforce FC Killer Gel Ant Bait
  • Active Ingredient:Fipronil
  • Target pests:This product controls a broad spectrum of ants:...
  • Bait will remain effective for up to two weeks.
  • Apply gel in spots in cracks and crevices. For best results,...
  • The gel will stay attractive to ants for up to two weeks. Inspect...

This bait can be easily applied near cracks, crevices, and on the other infested areas. The active ingredient is Fipronil which is effective against odorous house ants and many other types of ants. This gel bait will remain effective for up to 2 weeks.

• Indoor and Outdoor Insecticide Sprays for Odorous House Ants

Indoor and outdoor insecticide sprays can also help to treat the odorous house ant infestation. Apply the ant spray at the exterior walls, inside of the holes, cracks, at the ant trails, near the entry points, and nesting sites.

The insecticide sprays show instant results and provide excellent protection against ants. But they will only work on the ants that you can see in front of you. This is why baits are a better option when dealing with a large colony.

Related: Best Natural Ant Sprays | Kids and Pet-Friendly Sprays

TERRO T401SR Ant Killer

TERRO T401SR Ant Killer Spray-2 Pack, White
  • 2 bottles included
  • Kills ants and other insects on contact
  • Also effective against cockroaches, silverfish, crickets,...
  • Can be used indoors or outdoors
  • Convenient, easy-to-use aerosol spray bottle

TERRO T401SR Ant Killer is easy to use aerosol spray. It can be used for both indoor and outdoor infestations. Other than odorous house ants, it can kill many different species of ants, crickets, spiders, centipedes, silverfish, scorpions, cockroaches, and lady beetles.

EcoRaider Ant Killer

Ant Killer & Crawling Insect Killer (Citrus Scent) 16 OZ EcoVenger by EcoRaider , Kills Fast in Minutes, Also Kills Spiders, Centipedes & More, Repels with Residual, Natural & Non-Toxic, Children & Pets Safe
  • 【Dual-Function Kills & Repels】:This dual-action plant based...
  • 【One Spray & You don’t See Them Again】:Spray on active...
  • 【Proven by Published University Studies】:EcoVenger...
  • 【Natural & Non-Toxic but Highly Efficacious】:Contains no...
  • 【Your Safety is Our Priority】:EcoVenger goes through strict...

This spray is really effective against ants. It is a plant-based eco-friendly, natural and non-toxic insecticide spray. Also this spray prevents the re-grouping of ants for up to 4 weeks.

Demon WP Insecticide Solution

Demon WP Insecticide 2 Envelopes Containing 4 Water-Soluble 9.5 Gram Packets Makes 4 Gallons Cypermethrin 40%
  • Quick knockdown and long-lasting - 90+ day residual
  • Can be used inside and out
  • Size: 1 Envelope contains Four 9.5 gram water soluble packets
  • Yield and Mixing: One 9.5g packet mixed with 1 gallon of water...
  • Target Pest: Ants, Aphidsc, Assassin Bugs, Boxelder Bugs,...

The Demon WP control solution can treat a wide range of pests such as ants, crickets, cockroaches, flies, bugs, mites, fleas, mosquitoes, etc. It comes with four 9.5 g insecticide water-soluble packets and one insecticide packet is sufficient for 1 gallon of water.

Taurus SC

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Taurus SC is one of the best non-repellent ant control sprays. Fipronil is used as an active ingredient for this spray. The spray is undetectable to the pests which means that after the application they will touch the insecticide and eventually die.

• Dust Treatment for Odorous House Ants

Insecticide dust is also very effective against odorous house ants. The insecticide powder kills the ants directly when it comes in contact with them.

Apply the dust inside cracks and wall voids, behind cabinets, inside narrow spaces, and at all the potential nesting sites. You can also use professional dusters to make the process easier.

Bayer Delta Dust Insecticide

The Bayer Delta Dust Insecticide is the recommended insecticide powder for outdoor and indoor use. The dust directly kills the ants and several other pests after application. The insecticide remains effective for up to 8 months. You can treat infested areas, cracks or potential nesting sites of odorous house ants to eradicated ant colonies instantly.

Safer Brand 5168 Diatomaceous Earth Powder

Safer Brand 5168 Diatomaceous Earth Powder Ant, Crawling Insect and Bed Bug Killer, 7 Ounces
  • 7 oz. powder presentation
  • Contains diatomaceous earth (77.69%)
  • Kills insects by ingestion/dehydration within 48 hrs
  • Works indoors or outdoors
  • OMRI Listed and compliant for use in organic gardening

Safer Brand 5168 Diatomaceous Earth Powder is a natural way to kill the odorous house ants within 48 hours. The powder is best for both outdoor and indoor ant control. This is the best eco-friendly product for organic gardening.

TERRO T600 Ant Dust

TERRO T600 Ant Dust Powder Killer for Indoors and Outdoors - Kills Ants, Fire Ants, Carpenter Ants, Roaches, Spiders, and Other Insects
  • Effectively Kills Insects - Kills ants (including fire &...
  • Waterproof Formula - The waterproof dust won't wash in the rain
  • Fast Acting & Long Lasting - This dust kills insects on contact...
  • Easy to Apply - The convenient shaker canister allows for both...
  • Use Indoors & Outdoors - Apply in cracks and crevices, around...

TERRO T600 Ant Dust kills ants, spiders, cockroaches and other insects. The ready to use insecticide powder remains active for over 8 months. The easy to use shaker comes with a widespread option.  The product is ideal for cracks or crevices and can be used to treat both indoor and outdoor infested areas.

Step 3: Prevention of Odorous House Ants

The best way to prevent odorous house ants invasion or their re-establishment is to maintain cleanliness and to remove all the factors that can attract them to your house or yard.

When it comes to your yard you need to remove all the moist wood shavings, wood logs, mulches, bricks piles, and debris. You can also grow ant repellent plants in your gardens like catnip, lavender, or peppermint to keep the odorous ants away.

Remove the tree branches that are close to the property walls as they can provide an easier way for the ants to get inside of your house.

Inside of your house, you need to seal all the holes, cracks, or narrow spaces that can provide shelter to odorous ants. The odorous house ants prefer to build their shelter near moisture, therefore, try to keep your kitchen and bathrooms dry and fix your leaky pipelines.

Regularly clean your kitchen and do not leave any food leftovers overnight. Clean all the spilled food and crumbs after every meal. Keep the food items covered and put them at a safe place, possibly a refrigerator.

How to Get Rid of Odorous House Ants in Walls?

The odorous house ants usually nest inside wall voids, wall cracks, or holes. The best way to get rid of the odorous ants in walls is with the use of insecticide dust or ant baits. A combination of the two will be the most effective way. Simply apply the dust inside the wall cracks and most of the odorous ants will instantly die.

Now if you are doubting that they also have a colony nearby, in that case, you definitely should use ants baits as well. Similarly, put the liquid or solid baits near the ant trails and their entry points. Ants will take the baits to their nests and the poisonous bait will ultimately kill the entire colony.

You can also use sprays to treat the infested wall voids. For every product follow the company’s guidelines and read the labels carefully in order to get the best results.

How to Get Rid of Odorous House Ants Naturally: Instructions

How to Get Rid of Odorous House Ants Naturally

There are several ways to get rid of odorous house ants naturally. For example, you can prepare homemade insecticide sprays, ant baits, or traps. These methods are inexpensive and do not require toxic chemicals.

Ant Repellent Plants

You can plant different ant repellent herbs in your garden or around the boundary wall of your house to deter the odorous ant infestations. Some of the ant repellent plants are rosemary, peppermint, thyme, lavender, sage, catnips, garlic, pennyroyal, cinnamon bark, etc.

You can also use essential oils of these plants to prevent the odorous ants from invading your house. To create an ant barrier, take a few drops of peppermint oil on a cotton ball and wipe the potential nesting sites of odorous house ants to keep them away.

Vinegar Spray

Mix equal parts of water and vinegar (1:1) to prepare an ant repellent spray. Pour the vinegar solution in the spray bottle and apply it directly at the ant trails, wall cracks, and other suspicious areas. The vinegar helps with removing the ant’s pheromone trails.

Related: Does Vinegar Kill Ants? | Effective Ant Control Guide

Water and Soap Spray

Soap and water solution is a harmless and effective way to kill ants and several other types of insects. You can prepare the soapy solution by mixing equal parts of liquid soap and water. Simply apply the spray and the ants will suffocate to death.

Ground Coffee

Ground coffee is another inexpensive home remedy for the odorous ant infestation. Sprinkle ground coffee around your garden and close to the walls of your house to prevent the entry of odorous house ants.


Cornstarch is a safe way to kill ants without using toxic insecticides. Apply the cornstarch near the ant trails and shelters. Workers will take the powder back to their nest to feed the other ants. This process will eventually cause the death of the entire colony.

Natural Borax Baits | DIY Ant Bait

To prepare sugar-based ant bait, mix ground sugar and borax (3:1 ratio). Put the baits near cracks, ants trails, and at the entry points of odorous ants. The sugar will attract the odorous house ants and they will take the bait back to their nests. After they consume the bait, borax will kill the entire colony.

To prepare a honey borax bait, mix 1 tablespoon honey and 1.5 tablespoons of borax. Apply the paste on a disposable container and place it near the ant trails.

Prepare a greasy ant bait by mixing 2 teaspoons of borax in 1 teaspoon of peanut butter. Put the bait on a lid or tape and place it near the ant trails in order to get rid of the entire odorous house ant colony.

Odorous House Ants Facts

  • Odorous house ants produce a rotten coconut-like smell when they get squashed and that is why they are referred to as stinky ants, coconut ants, and odorous house ants.
  • Multiple satellite odorous house ants colonies are interlinked to one primary colony. The linked channels also help the ants to exchange food and workers.
  • The male and female reproductive odorous house ants develop wings for a short time during the mating season which helps them during the breeding process.
  • According to the previous studies, the queen of odorous house ants can survive for over 2 months without water and food.
  • The queen of odorous house ants has a high tolerance of the hot and dry environments which means that she can ensure the survival of a colony even in harsh weather conditions.


The small infestation of odorous house ants won’t cause a serious problem but multiple developed colonies of odorous ants can be a nuisance and cause problems. To prevent an odorous ant infestation you need to have good sanitary conditions in your house. Also, fix any broken pipelines and seal all the potential nesting sites to keep the ants away. 

To get rid of already established colonies of odorous house ants, inspect the infested areas carefully and apply a suitable treatment method that we mentioned in our step by step guide. The most commonly used treatment methods are ant baits, application of insecticide sprays, control solutions, and insecticide dust. You can also prepare natural insecticide sprays and baits by using simple ingredients from home.

If you don’t have time to deal with these ants or the situation is getting out of hand, we suggest calling a professional pest control service to resolve your problem. For more pest-related content keep following our site!

List of Sources

PennState College of Agricultural Sciences (2020). Odorous House Ants, Insect Advice from Extension.

Davis, R. and Taylor, A. (2019). Odorous House Ants (Tapinoma sessile).

Michael F. (2018). Ant Control for Householders. Extension Entomologist, University of Kentucky

Buczkowski, G. and Richmond, D.S. (2012). The effect of urbanization on ant abundance and diversity: a temporal examination of factors affecting biodiversityPloS one7(8), p.e41729.

Odorous House Ant Identification Resources, University of Nebraska – Lincoln