How to Manage Pests

Key to Identifying Common Household Ants

Odorous house ant—Tapinoma sessile
Subfamily: Dolichodorinae

Odorous house ant worker

Odorous house ant characteristics

Identifying characteristics


  • Feed on both dead and living insects, favoring aphid and scale honeydew
  • In homes, forage primarily for sweets
  • Travel in both wandering patterns and set trails
  • Trails common along branches of trees, foundations, sidewalks, baseboards, and edges of carpets
  • When disturbed, become erratic with their abdomens raised in the air

Nest type and size

  • Live in shallow nests in soil under stones, wood, or debris
  • May nest in various habitats including wooded areas, beaches, wall voids, and around water pipes and heaters
  • Large colonies, with up to 10,000 workers and many queens

See also, odorous house ant quick management tips.

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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