Odorous house ants
Active season: Odorous house ants are active year-round, but kick into high gear May through September. They swarm in the summer, are very common, and can be found beyond Southern New Hampshire and throughout the U.S.
Disease profile: Odorous house ants don’t carry any diseases that we’re aware of. Phew.
Appearance: Odorous house ants are all the same size – one twelfth to an eighth of an inch long – and are brownish black. You can find them both inside and outside, following ant trails to a food source. Colonies are very large with many active queens served by scores of worker ants.
Signs: This species of ant gets its name because of the off-putting odor that emits from the ant when crushed. Think rotten coconut meets wet leaves. And the kicker: odorous house ants will build nests indoors or outdoors, so you may see them walking along counters, cabinets and walls foraging for sweets indoors and honeydew (a sweet, sticky secretion produced by other insects).
ASK 603 PEST
“I stepped on an ant and it smelled like old lemons. Is this another type of odorous house ants?”
Probably not. Some people confuse odorous house ants with citronella ants, which smell like rotten lemons when crushed because they eat honeydew from citrus-loving insects. Unlike odorous house ants, citronella ants live underground. They are common in the eastern US, and are yellowish in color.
“What do odorous house ants eat?
When outdoor food sources of honeydew are scarce, they will make their way inside and search for sweet items, meats, and fats (clearly not concerned about heart health). They travel via trails, and are active during the day and night.
Crazy Ants, Fire Ants, Little Black Ants
Active seasons: Most ants that we see in Hooksett and in Southern New Hampshire are present year-round, though most active May through September.
Disease profiles: Ants are not known as disease carriers, but can bite and sting, so it’s always best to approach unfamiliar pests carefully and respectfully.
Appearance: Varies, but most ants are identified by black, brown, or reddish, and do have a head, thorax and abdomen, though the thorax and abdomen aren’t always obvious. If you need help determining what you’re dealing with, give 603 Pest a call for a free consultation.
Signs: Look for trails along floors, cabinets and countertops, around pet food dishes or other food sources. Some varieties may only be active during the day, or night.
ASK 603 PEST
“I live in NH and have a large mound of dirt covered with red ants. I think they are fire ants. Should I burn it?”
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Don’t set anything on fire! The good news is that we’ve never heard of fire ants active in New Hampshire, they prefer the warmer states down south. The bad news is that setting a nest (or bee hive, or anything alive, for that matter) on fire is a safety risk for you and wherever the fire has potential to spread…not to mention that some ant colonies reach so far down into the soil that the ants may spread out to a wider area of your property, making the problem worse.
“Are crazy ants really insane?”
By human standards, maybe. Crazy ants, which get their name from the jerking motions they make when disturbed, feed on dead insects along with honeydew from aphids. They are very slender, and the worker ants who are out looking for food are about a tenth of an inch long and dark brown. They nest in walls or under carpets, under potted plants or in cracks in masonry.
“The ants in my kitchen don’t look like any of the ants you mentioned. What are they?”
You may have the ubiquitous little black ant, a species that is present in every state in the U.S. All members of its very large colony are very small – a fifteenth of an inch – dark black, and can live inside or outside. Indoors, they seek sweets, meats, breads, grease, fruits and veggies, apparently preferring a well-balanced diet to that of their sugar-fiend cousins. Find their nests in masonry cracks, under rocks, and in soil. They may also set up camp in rotting wood and building stonework.