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Odorous Ant

Tapinoma sessile

Actual Size: 3mm

Characteristics: Dark brown to black. All workers are the same size. Also known colloquially as sugar ants, coconut ants, and stink ants, due to the odor they release when crushed.


  • Highly adaptive to multiple climates; widely distributed throughout the U.S.
  • Colonies with multiple queens
  • Odorous ants exhibit complex social behavior. An individual queen will sometimes establish secondary colonies, either by herself or with a group of workers.
  • These ants are quick and erratic movers
  • If alarmed, odorous ants will release a pheromone that signals alarm to other workers.




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Pest Description

Odorous Ants and Complex Behaviors

Although they have single colonies with multiple queens, there are instances of a single queen leaving the nest, either alone or with a group of workers, to establish a new colony entirely. They are highly adaptive to multiple types of climates, being tolerant of extreme hot and cold temperatures. They commonly nest in sand or under logs, and will also establish nests in fields, forested areas, and buildings.

Odorous ants are a tough species, continuing to work or forage with damaged limbs. Queens have been known to lay eggs even with a crushed abdomen, and are also known to survive for up to two months without food or water. Odorous ants engage in mutualism with aphids, protecting them in order to harvest the honeydew aphids produce. Odorous ants also scavenge for other sugary substances and protein. They will send out scouts to find food, and when workers return to a source, they will create pheromone-based trails. When a nest is too far away from a potential food source, odorous ants will move an entire nest to be closer to the food resource.

Odorous ants often display quick and erratic movement patterns when threatened. They also send up “alarm” pheromones, which many people describe as smelling like coconut. They also exude this odor when crushed, as a warning to other workers, creating increasingly erratic behavior in nearby ants.

Problems Caused by Odorous Ants

While generally non-destructive, odorous ants will grow rapidly within a home or business because of food and water availability. Because they are so hardy, willing to nest in extreme situations, they will nest in highly unusual places. Nests have been found in crawl spaces, attics, insulation, and even inside electronic devices.

Preventing Odorous Ants

The prevention of an odorous ant infestation is complex, and not always possible. Proper food storage and controlling garbage areas can help prevent a problem from starting. Reducing clutter, eliminating standing water, and trimming plants away from the house can all help as well.

If any odorous ants are crushed, it’s important to fully clean the area, to prevent the alarm pheromone from alerting other workers. Any discovered trails or pathways should be completely wiped down with soap and water.

Controlling and Eliminating an Odorous Ant Infestation

Because they are such a complex species of ant, it can be difficult to eliminate an infestation after it occurs. It’s best to call a professional ant exterminator with a firm understanding of the erratic social and nesting behavior of the odorous ant. The pheromone trails created by the odorous ant can be difficult to fully manage. At Pest Control Inc, we use a variety of different treatment techniques, including surveillance, baiting, and exclusion solutions.


Call us at (702) 385-1269


or click the button, and we’ll call you back in minutes!