Odorous Ants Face-Off: Tackling House Invaders with Smell

Ants on Floor | Advantage Termite and Pest Control

The internet has had many viral arguments over the years, but none reeked quite as much as the great ant debate of 2023. This widespread debate had people all over the world asking the question: Do ants smell? While an informal poll by IFL Science suggests that around 20% of people can smell ants, the real answer may have more to do with the particular ant species than any superhuman ant whiffing abilities.

Wondering whether that awful blue cheese stench in your home is an ant odor? Here’s what you should know about what types of ants give off a smell, what it means, and what you can do to prevent these tiny stink bug wannabes from invading your household.

Why Do Some Ants Have an Odor?

Whether you’re dealing with odorous house ants or acrobat ants, the reason behind their pungent stench remains the same: defensive pheromones. Ant odors occur when the little scavenger feels threatened or attacked. Similar to a skunk’s reaction when threatened, odorous ants excrete a volatile odor to deter predators. They may also emit the same awful smell when squished, as the crushing causes the same pheromone to release.

Identifying Odorous Ants

Not every species of ant emits a foul odor, but there are a few species common to the Kansas City area that do: odorous house ants, acrobat ants, and carpenter ants.

Odorous House Ants

Odorous house ants are small black or dark brown ants that look very similar to ordinary house ants, but they have one distinct difference: their smell! The stench odorous house ants release when threatened has been described as smelling like rotten coconut or blue cheese.

Acrobat Ants

Acrobat ants are slightly larger than other ants you’ll find in your house and have a yellow-brown or dark-brown coloring. They get their name from the unique pose they take while releasing pheromones. When they feel threatened, acrobat ants raise their abdomen over their thorax in a posture that looks a lot like an acrobat.

Carpenter Ants

Amidst the smelly species of ants dwells one of Kansas City’s most notorious wood-destroying insects: the carpenter ant. These ants vary greatly in size and color, making them easier to distinguish by their wood-chewing behavior than by appearance. Their method of releasing an odor is also unique from their stinky ant cousins, as carpenter ants spray formic acid when threatened rather than releasing smelly pheromones.

What’s interesting about the vinegar-like scent carpenter ants release is that not everyone can smell it! So if you come face-to-face with a carpenter ant and suddenly smell vinegar, you just might have an ant-whiffing superpower after all!

How to Prevent Ants (and Their Odors!)

Fortifying your home against these more odorous ant species is much the same as ant prevention for any other colony from setting up shop in or around your home. Practice the following prevention methods to keep your home ant-free:

  1. Seal up entry points. Caulk gaps around windows, doors, and utility entry locations. It’s also a good idea to inspect your home’s siding for any cracks or holes and seal those as well.
  2. Store food in airtight containers. Keep your counters and tables clean of crumbs and other possible food sources. Make sure any food in cabinets or pantries are stored in airtight containers too.
  3. Schedule pest management services. One of the most crucial ways to successfully prevent ants is to routinely check your home for pests and use integrated pest management (IPM) solutions to naturally fortify your home against pest invasions.

What to Do if You Smell an Ant Invasion

If you discover the presence of ants in your home, whether by sight or smell, here’s what you should do.

Avoid Squishing!

If the ants in your home are of an odorous variety, squishing them will only make the smell worse. Carefully remove live ants from your home, eliminate them in a non-squishing fashion, or contact pest control right away to take care of the problem on your behalf.

Bring in the Professionals

When all else fails, it’s time to call Advantage Termite and Pest Control to resolve the situation! Our pet and person-safe pest prevention and control methods will have you living both ant-free and odor-free before you know it, along with reducing the likelihood of a return invasion.

If you suspect your smelly ant visitors are carpenter ants, don’t mess around with DIY methods and instead contact us right away so we can remove the infestation before the damage goes too far!

Enjoy the Sweet Aroma of Pest-Free Living!

No one wants to share their home with stinky insects (unless they’re an insect collector with a poor sense of smell), and we make it our mission to protect the citizens of Kansas City from pests that would take over their households! If you are concerned about ants — odorous or otherwise — infesting your home, contact us at Advantage Pest Control to schedule an appointment.

Call us at first sight (or smell) – we do it right!

Serving Kansas City Metro and Lawrence

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