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Elimination

The first step is to correctly identify the insect because pharaoh ants are often confused with other species. Once you're sure you’re dealing with pharaoh ants, we strongly recommend calling in a pest management specialist. By their nature, pharaoh ant infestations can be a tough challenge. Residual contact insecticides are not recommended because a colony may split up on contact with the product, and the infestation may spread to multiple rooms. Bait with insecticide should be the first step. But off-the-shelf ant baits may not be effective because they aren’t developed specifically for pharaoh ants. Your best weapon in ridding your home of these pests? Patience!

Actions

  • Use insecticidal baits directly where foraging ants are seen because nests are not readily accessible

Prevention

  • Eliminate food waste on the ground and counters (housekeeping)

Description and development

The pharaoh ant (Monomorium pharaonis ) is a tiny ant measuring under 2 mm in length. Its coloring ranges from yellow-gold to red. These ants have stingers, but they are rarely visible. Pharaoh ants are often confused with other species, which is why it’s important to capture a few specimens to have them identified by a pest management specialist.
Ants are social insects that live in colonies. Unlike many other ant species, there are multiple queens in a pharaoh ant colony. Although some pharaoh ants have wings, this species do not have mating flights. Mating takes place in the nest and new colonies are formed by “budding,” which is when one or more queens and some workers leave the nest, taking the larvae and pupae with them to start a new colony at another nest site. Under optimal conditions, a colony may reach up to 300,000 insects.

Habits

The pharaoh ant hails from the tropical regions of Africa, so colonies thrive in warm, humid environments. These ants do not build little hills in the dirt or dig tunnels in the wood. Instead they enter structures through openings and cracks (or through voids in cabinets, baseboards, window frames, etc.). Nests may be found near a heat source such as a heat pipe or radiator. For instance, you may unintentionally invite a colony to take up residence by carrying part of a nest hidden in a box into your home.

Colonies are highly mobile and can easily change locations if environmental conditions change. Inside buildings, workers are often attracted to sources of moisture. They can usually be found moving along pipes in the kitchen or bathroom. Outside, workers gather around windows and doors. While they can be found during the day, these ants tend to be active toward evening.

Pharaoh ants seek out sugars, fats, and insects to feed the colony. If a colony is under stress, it may split into multiple smaller colonies and spread out in a structure.

Tips

Regular and thorough housecleaning helps reduce the number of ants in your home by limiting the amount of food available to workers.

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