Pharaoh Ant Pheromone

Pharaoh ants (Monomorium pharaonis), like most ant species, communicate through pheromones. Pheromones are chemicals produced by an organism to communicate with others and are extensively used by most ant species. There are many different types of pheromones and messages that are sent. One example is a recruitment pheromone to attract other pharaoh ants to new food or nesting sites. Ants use pheromone signals to identify members of the colony and specific castes. There are pheromones that aid in the reproduction process. There are alarm pheromones and many others. Pheromones play an important role in the communication process of ant workers. The workers touch each other with their antennae and “smell” the pheromone messages on the other ants’ bodies. The most commonly used pheromones are trail pheromones, which are created when workers touch the large posterior section of their gasters to the ground. Other workers follow the trail, leading large numbers of ants to various food sources. Cleaning and wiping down a surface where ants have laid a pheromone trail can cause the ants to be disoriented until they re-establish the pheromone.

Pharaoh ants can become a major problem, especially when infesting buildings such as hospitals, restaurants, grocery stores or apartment buildings. Many people refer to these ants as “sugar ants.” When disturbed with repellant insecticides, the colony will scatter and create many new colonies. It is best to contact a pest control professional when pharaoh ants are causing problems.