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Many technicians brag about being able to “sniff out” certain pests. It’s true that the more you work with infestations, the more tuned in you can become to the specific odour of a specific pest. For example, you can probably smell a heavy mouse infestation the minute you walk through the client’s door. Some think mouse urine smells a bit like stale popcorn. Not a bad smell. No matter how you describe it, you know it when you smell it!

Of course, different people have different sensitivities to smells. Some of it is even genetic. The odours of most insects are only noticed at high pest levels, or if the insects are crushed, or if they are threatened and secrete a defensive fluid. Defensive fluids will have a pungent, offensive odour (which often can’t even be described!) to discourage birds and other animals from turning that insect into a meal. Some insects, for example , he western conifer seed bug, exude the odour of the essential oils in the food they feed on.

When your job makes scents!

The following pest odours are pretty well documented in pest control literature. Enough people have noted these odours and tried to describe them that the specific smells are often used as identifying characters for certain pests:

Odorous house ants –  blue cheese, (when crushed). Blue cheese was the #1 answer in a “crush-and-sniff” smell test by 143 people; rotting coconuts came in second.
Larger yellow ants – citronella or lemon (both defensive & when crushed)
Brown marmorated stink bugs – cilantro or ground coriander ( both defensive & when crushed)
Western conifer seed bug – turpentine or pine (both defensive & when crushed)
Bed bugs – spoiled raspberries or musty coriander or almonds ( heavy infestation)
Flour beetles – sickly musty smell (heavy infestation in flour)
Grain mites – sweet minty smell (heavy infestation & when crushed)
German cockroaches – oily, musky, nutty, like rotten maple syrup! (heavy infestation)


Content Courtesy of Pest Management Academy – click here for more info on Pest Management training.