What are Sugar Ants?
Sugar ants, also known as odorous house ants, are common insects that love being in the kitchen. They are about 1/16 to 1/8 inches in length, and range from reddish-brown to black in color. They are primarily nocturnal and like to hide in dark places, like behind walls, between rocks, or in the dirt. Sugar ants have a preference for warm and humid climates, so they become most active in the summer.
With their keen sense of smell, sugar ants are very good at locating sweet things to eat. While their preference for sugary foods is common knowledge, their actual name is due to a strange defense mechanism; odorous house ants secret a smell when they get smushed! Generally agreed to be the smell of a “rotten coconut”, recent research suggests that the smell is closer to blue cheese.
Do Odorous House Ants Bite?
In the case of these bugs, their smell is worse than their bite. Sugar ants are not known to bite humans unless their nest is disturbed, and since their nests are usually behind walls or under rocks, it’s unlikely for a human to come across it. If they do bite humans, it’s easy to treat and has no lasting effects.
Why Do Ants Like Sugar?
Sugar ants get their familiar name because of their love of sugary nectar; their favorite is honeydew sap! Their diet consists of mostly of aphids, which have a very similar smell to their beloved melon.
It’s speculated that they are attracted to other sugary foods because it’s easy to break down, and provides a source of high energy with fewer calories. Sugar ants move their colonies around every 3 months, usually in response to the rain, so they need as much energy as possible for that and general maintenance of their nests.
Bloom Editor Danielle Schneider
Bloom Writer Leah Iannacone