The pungent, "rotten-coconutlike" odor given off
when this ant is crushed gives it its name. It is a native
species and is found throughout the United States.
Workers monomorphic, about 1/16-1/8" (2.4-3.25 mm) long.
Body brown to black. Antenna 12-segmented, without a club.
Thorax lacks spines, profile unevenly rounded. Pedicel 1-segmented,
with small node/segment hidden/concealed from view from above
by base of gaster. Gaster with anal opening slitlike, lacking
circlet of hairs. Stinger absent. Workers emit a disagreeable,
rotten, coconut-like odor.
(1) Ghost ant (Tapinoma melanocephalum) with head and thorax
dark but abdomen and legs pale. (2) Argentine (Iridomyrmex
humilis), crazy (Paratrechina longicornis), pyramid (Conomyrma
insana), and dark field (Formica spp.) ants have node visible,
not hidden by gaster; in addition, pyramid ants with thorax
with single tooth on upper surface, field and crazy ants with
circular anal opening surrounded by circlet of hairs and crazy
ants additionally with antenna! scape (1st segment) at least
twice head length and very long legs in relation to body size.
(3) Other small dark ants have 2-segmented pedicel and/or
lack rotten coconut odor when crushed.
Colonies may be composed of several hundred to 100,000 ants.
There are usually many queens in a colony. Developmental time
(egg to adult) is 34-83 days, varying with temperature during
summer months, and up to 6-7 months during the winter. Colonies
typically produce 4-5 generations a year. Although they probably
mate both inside and outside the nest, the first swarmers
appear from May to mid-July. The workers and queens live for
several years. Individuals from different colonies are not
hostile to one another and workers normally move along trails.
Inside, these ants usually construct their nests in wall voids
especially around hot water pipes and heaters, in crevices
around sinks, cupboards, etc. These ants prefer sweets but
also eat foods with high protein content and grease such as
meats and cheese.
they are often found in the nest of larger ants, in exposed
soil, but mostly under objects. Workers feed on insects, seek
honeydew and plant secretions, and even feed on seeds. They
are extremely fond of honeydew and attend such honeydew-excreting
insects as plantlice (aphids), scale insects, mealybugs, etc.
They are most likely to enter buildings when their honeydew
supply is reduced such as during rainy weather or with leaf
fall in the autumn.
workers are alarmed, they run around in an erratic manner
with their gasters/abdomens raised up.
Location of the nest(s) is crucial and can often be accomplished
by following the trail of foraging workers back from the food
source. Use of boric acid dust in the voids of outside ground-floor
walls and infested interior walls along with barrier treatment
is effective. Baiting is often required.