Little Black Ants Everywhere!

Odorous house ant profile

Odorous house ant has a flat, hidden node, so it cannot be seen by side profile compared to other ants.  Photo by Jody Green, Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County.

If you’re like most homeowners, this is the time of year small ants seem to be invading your home. Here in Lancaster County, household ant identification and inquiries are high. Spring has sprung, but the varying soil and air temperatures may not be stable enough to produce the food (carbohydrates, fats, proteins) to support the many ants becoming active in the ecosystem. They may be too close for comfort and here are the reasons they’re entering your space:

  1. They can.
  2. They’re hungry.
  3. They’re thirsty.

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Termites in the Limelight

Since joining the Nebraska Extension office in Lancaster County a month ago, I’ve had a variety of questions regarding termites and termite control. My job is not to provide inspection or treatment services, but to provide information about termites and their management, so that homeowners can make informed decisions regarding hiring a pest control company to treat, as well as prevent infestations in the future.

The only termites found in Nebraska are subterranean termites. As their name implies, they maintain a connection with the soil by nesting primarily in the ground, or traveling in mud tubes from the ground up. Due to their cryptic nature, they are seldom seen; the damage they cause to cellulose materials, which includes wood, cardboard, drywall paper and cotton fabric, can remain undetected for years.

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What’s Bugging You?…Barb and Soni on KFOR

At 9 am (CDT) on Thursday, April 17, 2014, Soni Cochran and Barb Ogg, UNL Extension Educators-Lancaster County, will be guests of Cathy Blythe on her award winning radio show, Problems and Solutions, on KFOR 1240am. They will answer questions about insect and wildlife pest problems in southeast Nebraska in a segment called, “What’s Bugging You?”

Turn your radio dial to 1240 am or listen online live by clicking the button at:  To find this P&S podcast later, click here:





Odorous house ants coming indoors

Odorous house ants feeding on liquid ant bait.

Odorous house ants feeding on liquid ant bait.

Now that weather has warmed up, folks are starting to see ants indoors and calling the extension office for help. Most of the time, these ants are living in outdoor colonies and find their way inside the house through tiny cracks around the foundation or under doors or windows.  They don’t need much of a space to come indoors.

The most common ants people are seeing right now are odorous house ants.  If you smash these odorous house ants (ick!), you’ll notice they smell like coconut, which is how they get their name. Odorous house ants are one of the ant species sometimes called “sugar ants” because they are attracted to sweets. When it gets warmer, they feed on honeydew produced by aphids, mealy bugs and scale insects living outdoors.  So, once it warms up and these honeydew producing insects become established in the landscape, the ants will stay outdoors to feed.

It’s helpful to make sure there’s nothing sweet on the counter that will attract more ants. The first “scout” ant will deposit a trail pheromone that tells other ants to “follow this trail” because there’s food on on your counter. Continue reading