Some ants smell when you kill them, majorly as a defense mechanism and as a way of communicating with others when threatened by you and predators. The ants that produce the stinky chemical when you crush or step on them are called the odorous house ants.
Types of odorous house ants are weaver ants, carpenter ants, and wood ants. Other species of ants rely on chemical defenses that smell differently. Those ants are common across the USA, particularly in the Midwest and the East Coast. For instance, field ants produce a vinegar-like smell.
In this article:
What ants smell when killed?
Ants with an unpleasant smell like that of rotting food when killed are the odorous ants. They are also known as stink ants because of their foul smell. The foul-smelling ants leak chemicals produced from their bodies when they are killed.
The bugs are more sensitive to smells than humans since they can smell with their antennas. Researchers have established that ants have four or five times more smell receptors than most insects. The antennas are covered by chemical receptors, which makes it easy for the bugs to communicate with each other.
The foul smell of killed ants is scientifically referred to as pheromone, a behavior-altering agent. The formic acid chemical is manufactured by many glands that exist inside ants. The chemicals come in handy for identifying colony members and intruders, alerting each other of a threat, and finding food sources.
For instance, once the foraging insects find food, they leave a scent trail back to the colony that the worker ants will follow to bring the food.
Ants used the stinking smell to attack even big animals threatening their existence. An ant attacks an animal by biting to create a minor wound. The wound is then sprayed with the chemical, making the animal feel a sharp stinging pain, resulting in irritation and inflammation. Therefore, even though the ants’ smell is foul for you, it is vital for ants’ survival.
Can everyone smell squashed ants?
Not everyone can smell squashed ants. Although the ants have a distinct smell, not all people can smell it. That is because sensitivity to an odor depends on an individual’s genetic makeup and composition. In other words, people who smell squashed ants often are more sensitive to the odor.
Sometimes though, you may not notice the smell of squashed ants since they are not in large numbers to make it intense.
For others who crushed ants, they may have been too concerned with the wound bites or running away from a defensive swarm that they did not have time to recognize the smell.
What do ants smell like when killed?
Ants smell like ammonia or rotting coconut. Sometimes though, the smell can remind you of blue cheese or penicillin mold., which is why it may seem familiar. Generally, what ants smell like when killed depends on the type of odorous ant you encounter.
However, the odor will not be pleasant.
How to get rid of ant smell after killing them
After killing ants, often your home will have a lingering disgusting smell. As long as dead bodies of ants are lying around and there are traces of chemicals they release, your house will have a foul smell. Here are some acts that help in getting rid of the scent left by odorous ants:
One way to get rid of ant smell involves vacuum cleaning your space. Vacuuming helps clean up and collect all the chemicals released by dead ants, dead and alive ants, and their droppings for disposal.
Adding white vinegar to mature or warm water can help in getting rid of the smell left by ants after killing them. Vinegar for cleaning the smells also helps make your space smell-free.
Basically, vinegar is an ordinary cleaner available in most homes. It is very successful in its application for removing different odors. You can fill bowls with vinegar and position them in distinct areas inside the house. Vinegar is capable of pulling ant smell from the air.
Alternatively, boil one tablespoon of vinegar and a cup of water. Once done boiling the mixture, reduce the heat so that it simmers. The solution will freshen up the air and rid it of any foul odors.
3. Consult a professional
In case getting rid of ant smell after you have killed them is proving challenging, you have the option of hiring a professional pest control company. Understandably, it is possible you are short of time and knowledge to kill ants and eliminate their stinking smell.
An ant exterminator will thoroughly inspect your property to know about the level of infestation and what is attracting the pests and offer practical solutions. Because experienced exterminators have dealt with ant infestation plenty of times, they come with a bag of tricks to control and prevent an attack.
But, hiring a pest control expert will cost you some money. In addition, it needs a lot of time to kill ants and get rid of the chemical smell.
Is the smell produced after killing ants dangerous?
The smell produced after killing rants is not dangerous to your health. The scent will only irritate you if you detect it since it is smelly. Ants release the chemical not to endanger you but to communicate with each other and distinguish between a colony mate and an invader.
Dead ants use the chemical to warn others that there is danger and that they should run away to safety or come help defend the colony.
The only thing you need to be aware of is to avoid as much as possible an ant sting or bite. Though the sting is often mild since the insects are too small, still, a bite is capable of causing unpleasant symptoms and allergic reactions.
The nasty smell that offends your nose and irritates you when you kill ants is not part of a revenge mission. Whatever your senses make of the smell, it is a strategy that ants use to become better at searching and finding food and warning each other about a danger to work together to survive.
In conclusion, with the knowledge that only some ants produce smelling odors and the reasons behind the smell, keep your home from an ant infestation.
Apply the right strategies to prevent and control ant attacks. The plan should not involve splitting up a colony that worsens your troubles. If they are not an issue, you will not have to kill ants and deal with their nasty smelling odors.
How to keep stinking ants away
Focus on preventing attacks by the smelly ants by trying out the following tips.
- Sprinkle powdered products with unpleasant flavors on points of entry for ants. Black pepper, baking soda, and diatomaceous earth are great options. Or, Seal points of entry with paint or caulk.
- Spray essential oils with strong smells such as vinegar and lemon on surfaces in every room to discourage ant attacks.
- Always clean your living space with soapy water. Put more effort into the kitchen and clean dishes, tables, and countertops. Cleaning ensures no food, especially crumbs, is unavailable to attract odorous ants.
- Do not make food available to the insects. Place your food in the fridge or inside airtight containers or resealable plastic bags.
- Take apart potential nesting locations of ants like piles of debris or wood.
- Prune and trim the shrubs and tree branches around your home to avoid contact with your structures.
- Keep your mulch a reasonable distance away from the foundation of your buildings.
- Empty the kitchen trash bin frequently.
- Nebraska Extension in Douglas-Sarpy Counties: Odorous house ants
- Cornell University College of Agriculture: How odorous house ants smell