Ask the Times: Ants! 


Q: My house, even my roof, is crawling in ants, and our exterminator has not been able to control them. He says they are odorous house ants, but I call them obnoxious. Has there been a jump in ant populations this year? I'm not the only one having this trouble.

A: Dr. John Hopkins is an associate professor at the University of Arkansas and an Extension Entomologist for urban pests. He says, no, there are no more ants this year than any year. Ant populations remain pretty stable. Your problem, he says, is you are "in the wrong place at the wrong time."

And no, you are not living atop a giant ant colony like the one in Japan inhabited by 306 million worker ants and a million queen ants, though it may seem like it. Probably your problem is honeydew — which is the sugary substance that insects with piercing mouth parts like aphids and white flies excrete after they suck the juices from your flowers, plants and trees. So if you live in a yard with flowers, plants and trees, and they are close to your house, you are feeding your ants. Hopkins is optimistic your pest person will get the odorous ants under control eventually.

They are called odorous ants (Tapinoma sessile), by the way, because of the way they smell when you crush them. Some describe the smell as like rotting coconut or a blue cheese. The ants are also called "stink ants" and "coconut ants."

Just be glad you don't live along the Texas gulf coast and have crazy ants, an invasive ant that will cover you up if you stand still in your yard in, say, Galveston. Crazy ants don't like our climate, Hopkins says, so while these ants may be driving you crazy, they are not crazy ants. Crazy ants, armed with the ability to spray formic acid on their enemies, including fire ants, are bad news for animals, like birds, who rely on the insects they kill for food.


From the ArkTimes store

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • 'Cemetery angel' Ruth Coker Burks featured in new short film

    Ruth Coker Burks, the AIDS caregiver and activist memorably profiled by David Koon as the cemetery angel in Arkansas Times in 2015, is now the subject of a short film made by actress Rose McGowan.
  • Buyer remorse

    Out here in flyover country, you can't hardly go by the feed store without running into a reporter doing one of those Wisdom of the Heartland stories.
  • Not Whitewater

    Just think: If Democrats had turned out 78,000 more votes in three states in November, people could be reveling today in the prospect of impeaching and convicting President Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, as some Republican lawmakers had promised to try to do if she won.
  • Head-shaking

    Another edition of so-much-bad-news-so-little space.

Latest in The Big Picture

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Parole and politics

    Will another high-profile crime derail parole reform?
  • Twenty

    Forgive The Observer a public love letter, Dear Reader. A gentleman never kisses and tells, but he is allowed to swoon a bit, and so we will. Last week made 20 years since we wed our beloved in her grandpa's little church way down in El Dorado, two dumb kids with nothing but our lives stretching out before us like an open road.
  • For universal health care

    While the U.S. Senate twists itself into a pretzel not passing a health care bill, I'm pleased to see that more and more people are looking seriously at universal health care.
  • 2017 Best of Arkansas editors' picks

    Pie, dog-chasing-geese watching, wrecked groceries, etc.
  • Best of Arkansas 2017

    Cream of the shops, and more

Most Recent Comments


© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation