Tiny, Stinky Ants Preparing for Big Invasion

Odorous house ants have funny name, but are no joking matter

By Kevin Cokely
|  Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010  |  Updated 9:00 AM CDT
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Tiny Ants Stink Up North Texas

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Tiny Ants Stink Up North Texas

Business is picking up for exterminators battling odorous house ants, that smell like rotten coconuts when they're crushed.
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They are tiny, numerous and smell like rotten coconuts when crushed between your fingers.

And they could be coming to your home soon.

Odorous house ants first started showing up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area a few years ago.

"They occur in huge numbers," said Larry Novy, of Arrow Exterminators in Carrollton. "We'll get them -- hundreds of thousands coming into a house."

The ants are expected to be a major pest over the next two months.

"They don't really cause harm, but what they'll do is, they'll get into food, get into food products, and they're really a nuisance," Novy said. "Literally, well see them trailing in and out of packets or boxes of sugar, flour, food material, things like that, but then they'll be crawling all over everything in the cabinets."

The small ants can often be mistaken for the more-common sweet ants, but their sheer numbers can overwhelm their cousins.

"Homeowners will call us in a panic because they have all these ants crawling around the house," Novy said.

His company, which has two locations in the Metroplex, now gets about two dozen calls a day from homeowners about odorous house ants.

Experts advise pulling dead leaves and mulch away from homes, checking under flower pots and flagstones for nests and using bait now to fight back.

"If they do that now, rather than wait 30 to 60 days, they'll achieve some control," Novy said.

Professionals such as Arrow Exterminators charge nearly $100 per quarter for routine service. But homeowners can try saving money by purchasing ant bait at home improvement stores and applying it themselves.

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