Tiny. Annoying. Prolific.
The smallest of the common ant types in the Pacific Northwest, Odorous House Ants (Tapinoma sessile), carry a BIG punch in regards to how annoying they can be. They also can make up for their diminutive size by their sheer numbers: colonies can have populations of up to 10,000.
While you might not immediately recognized the name Odorous House Ant, you may be familiar with some of their more common names in the vernacular – sugar ants, small ants, sweet ants, and another not-so-appropriate name that we won’t mention here.
Odorous ants have some distinct habits, other than simply bothering us. They are extremely pesky. If fact, it seems like that word was developed just for them. While they pose no risk of structural harm like a carpenter ant, they are one of if not the hardest pests to get rid of in the Portland Metro area.
While they certainly are attracted to sugars, other insects and sometimes proteins like most other ants, they are most fond of the honeydew produced by aphids and mealy bugs. Odorous ants are active around the clock, busy foraging night and day. They are unique in that they are a “well-socialized” ant, meaning that they get along fairly well with other ant species and colonies; this further protects their high populations from predators. Additionally, they are capable of producing multiple colonies with multiple queens.
Common outdoor environments favored by these ants are mulches, sections of loose tree bark and dirt and leaf litter under low foliage plants. When large outdoor colonies start running low on food sources, you can count on seeing them try to establish sub-colonies inside. High moisture zones of the structure such as kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms are the first and most common areas of infestation. Empty spaces inside walls and under carpeting are other suitable area for interior colonization.
How do you tell if have Odorous House Ants
You know you have Odorous House Ants is simply if they are the smallest ants you have ever seen. Their average length is only 1/8″. They are black or dark brown in color. When squished they give off a somewhat acrid, burnt smell. Such smells are hard to specifically describe but suffice it to say, if it’s small and it briefly smells bad when squished, it’s an Odorous House Ant.
All Pest Control’s Ant Extermination Approach
Let’s start with what we don’t’ do – we never use any contact killers, similar to what you might buy over the counter. We don’t use any repellents for a pre-existing Odorous Ant problem. Such treatments might provide some immediate satisfaction from quickly seeing dead ants, but they do nothing to address the root of the problem – the massive colony. We use treatments that the ants themselves, either willingly or inadvertently, bring back to the colony to achieve our objective – colony kill. Best of all, this can be accomplished with very small doses of treatment deployed in your environment and with a low risk of harm to people, pets or plants.