Sugar ants, also known as small house odorous ants, are a common household pest that can be difficult to control due to their large colony sizes and multiple queens. We will discuss what sugar ants look like, how to identify an odorous ant infestation, the dangers they pose, what attracts them to your home, and how to prevent and eliminate them.
What Do Sugar Ants Look Like?
Small house odorous ants get their name from the odor of rotten coconuts they produce when disturbed. They appear as small black ants measuring 1/16- 1/8” long. Odorous house ants tend to have very large colonies, with colony sizes ranging from a few hundred to 10,000 worker ants and multiple queens. This makes control very difficult, as the nest tends to split up when treated by the average homeowner.
How to Detect an Odorous Ant Infestation in Your Home
Generally, people begin seeing small black ants hanging around their kitchen or bathroom during winter or spring months. Colonies are typically in very close proximity to homes and like to live in wall cavities during the winter months. Odorous house ants get their name from smelling like rotten coconuts when crushed.
Dangers of Odorous Ant Infestations
While small house odorous ants do not directly harm humans through bites or stings, they can still pose potential risks in your home. Here are some dangers associated with an odorous ant infestation:
- Contamination of Food and Utensils: Ants can carry and transmit dangerous bacteria, such as Salmonella and E. coli, on their bodies. As they crawl on your food, countertops, and cooking utensils, they can spread these bacteria, leading to potential foodborne illnesses. To minimize this risk, always store food in airtight containers and clean your kitchen surfaces regularly.
- Allergies: Some individuals may experience allergic reactions to ant bites, their presence, or their waste products. Symptoms may include itching, redness, and swelling around the bite site, or more severe reactions like difficulty breathing or anaphylaxis in extreme cases. If you suspect an allergy to ants, consult a healthcare professional for advice on managing the allergy and reducing exposure to ants.
- Damage to Property: While odorous ants don’t cause structural damage like carpenter ants, they can still damage your home by nesting in wall cavities, insulation, or electrical systems. Additionally, large colonies of ants can leave unsightly trails and odors in your home, affecting its overall aesthetic and cleanliness.
- Attracting Other Pests: An odorous ant infestation might also attract other pests such as spiders, which prey on ants. This can lead to a secondary infestation, compounding the problem and making it even more challenging to restore a pest-free home.
What Is Attracting Ants into My Home?
Sugar ants are attracted to homes due to the abundance of food sources that can be typically found in one’s home. As the name suggests, sugar ants are attracted to sweets such as juices, candies, over-ripe fruit, and baked goods.
Is My House Dirty if I Have Odorous Ants?
Odorous ants are opportunistic, which means they can invade homes that are clean or dirty. However, maintaining cleanliness and eliminating food sources can help prevent odorous ant infestations.
How to Get Rid of an Odorous Ant Infestation
Treating odorous ants is a difficult task to undertake, especially on your own. This is due to the fact that odorous ants tend to have very large colonies and multiple queens. When a colony is threatened by conventional insecticide treatments, they tend to segment and break away, creating a new colony with a new queen from the original one. It’s always recommended to contact your local pest control professional, like EcoTek Pest Control, to get rid of an ant infestation once and for all.
Prevention Tips for Odorous House Ants or Sugar Ants
Preventing an odorous house ant infestation is key to maintaining a comfortable and healthy living environment. Here are some expanded tips to help you keep these pests at bay:
- Maintain Landscaping: Keep shrubs, trees, and plants around your home neatly trimmed and pruned. This will limit the access ants have to your home by removing potential bridges they can use to enter your living space. Additionally, consider placing a barrier of gravel or stone around the foundation of your home, as ants are less likely to cross these materials.
- Clean Outdoor Spaces: Keeping outdoor spaces like patios, barbecues, and picnic areas clean and well-maintained will reduce the likelihood of ants being attracted to your home. Clean up any spills immediately, store food securely, and remove any debris that could provide shelter for ants.
- Proper Food Storage: Store food in airtight containers or in the refrigerator, especially sweet items that attract ants. Clean up spills and crumbs promptly and keep countertops, cabinets, and pantries clean and free of food residue.
- Seal Entry Points: Inspect your home’s exterior for any cracks or gaps where ants could enter. Seal these openings with caulk or other appropriate materials to prevent ants from making their way inside.
- Manage Moisture: Odorous ants are attracted to moisture, so ensure your home is well-ventilated and free of leaks or standing water. Repair any leaks in your plumbing or roof, and consider using a dehumidifier in damp areas.
- Regular Cleaning: Maintain a regular cleaning schedule, focusing on areas where food is prepared, stored, and consumed. Vacuum or sweep floors daily, and clean countertops, sinks, and appliances regularly to remove potential food sources for ants.
Although odorous ants may not be harmful to humans, infestations can be a nuisance and may lead to potential food contamination. By keeping your home clean, eliminating food sources, and following the prevention tips mentioned above, you can reduce the chances of an infestation. If you do find yourself dealing with an odorous ant infestation, it’s essential to contact a professional pest control company like EcoTek Pest Control to safely and effectively eliminate the problem.