Odorous house ants are a common household ant throughout most of the U.S. They can easily be mistaken for other ants, except for their distinctive odor when crushed. The odor is often described on the internet as rotten coconuts or just coconuts, but various websites describe the ants as smelling like blue cheese, rancid butter, cleaner spray, and other scents.
So, what do the ants really smell like? Recent tests were conducted that asked people to sniff and describe the ant’s smell. Blue cheese was the most common scent chosen, with rotten coconuts the next most common choice.
Chemical analysis confirms the odor is closest to the smell of blue cheese. The distinctive scent of blue cheese is from the Penicillium mold in it. As coconuts start to rot, they too are colonized by Penicillium mold—which is why some people who are familiar with the scent of rotting coconuts identify that odor as how the ants smell.
Now you know what these ants really smell like, despite the variety of descriptions found on the internet!