Pharaoh Ants

Facts, Identification & Control

Latin Name

Monomorium pharaonis

Appearance

What do they look like?
pharaoh ant illustration

  • Size: Pharaoh ants are very small—about 2 mm long.
  • Color: They have light yellow bodies with red and black markings on the abdomen.

How Did I Get Pharaoh Ants?

Pharaoh ants enter homes to take advantage of crumbs, spills, moisture and protective habitat sites. Grease stains, dead insects, and sweet drinks attract these pests. In pantries, pharaoh ants infest and eat sugary foods and proteins like honey, peanut butter, and baked goods, but they can also be found infesting locations that have no food sources present. For example, pharaoh ants are known to build their nests in pipe chases, places that generally are located well away from sources of food

These pests typically make their way indoors through torn window screens, poorly sealed doors, windows or other entryways. Keeping doors, windows, patio doors and shutters closed and tightly sealed when not in use can limit their access. However, tiny pharaoh ants can also sneak in through cracks in walls, foundations and outdoor siding.

How Serious Are Pharaoh Ants?

Managing pharaoh ants is tough. In fact, the incorrect use of pesticides may prompt the insects to split off (budding) from existing colonies and begin new colonies in new locations rather than leave. Pharaoh ant populations can grow rapidly, especially if they go unnoticed near kitchens and pantries. Residents should throw away infested food, as the pests can spread salmonellosis and dysentery. A peculiar mating habit takes place with pharaoh ants since the mating of males and females takes place in the nest; therefore, a homeowner will not see a pharaoh ant mating swarm, unlike most other ant species.

Hospitals are of heightened concern with pharaoh ants, as the ants can spread disease and contaminate sterile equipment and rooms.

Pharaoh ants are found throughout our entire nation and are considered by most pest management professionals as one of the most, if not the most, difficult ant to control indoors

How Do You Get Rid of Pharaoh Ants?

What Orkin Does

The Orkin Man™ is trained to help manage Pharaoh Ants and similar pests. Since every building or home is different, your Orkin technician will design a unique program for your situation.

Keeping ants out of homes and buildings is an ongoing process, not a one-time treatment. Orkin’s exclusive A.I.M. solution is a continuing cycle of three critical steps — Assess, Implement and Monitor.

The Orkin Man™ can provide the right solution to keep ants in their place…out of your home, or business.

For more information or to schedule an inspection, please contact your local Orkin branch office.

Signs of Pharaoh Ant Infestation

The best sign are the small amber-colored workers as they forage along surfaces.

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Where do they nest?
Pharaoh ants can take advantage of artificial heating in buildings to survive the winter. Infestations commonly occur in food service areas. They will nest in well-protected and hidden areas throughout a structure, but they can also nest outdoors in lawns or gardens in warm climates.

These ants can build nests in walls, cabinet voids, behind baseboards, refrigerator insulation, the hollows of curtain rods, the folds of clothes, sheets and paper and other undisturbed dark spaces. A colony of pharaoh ants will scatter if a toxic substance disturbs it, creating multiple problems where there had been only one.

In controlling pharaoh ants, it is often advisable to seek professional help.

What do they eat?
Pharaoh ants eat food of all types, but especially sweets. They will also eat other insects.

Reproduction:

Pharaoh ants grow from egg to adult in about 38 days. Females live as long as 4 to 12 months, and workers only live up to 10 weeks.

Reproduction & Life Cycle

Pharaoh ants have multiple queens and are able to move their colonies from place to place when disturbed. Workers can grow from eggs to adults in as little as 38 days and may live for nine to 10 weeks. Queen pharaoh ants can live for four to 12 months, but male pharaoh ants die within three to five weeks of mating. Pharaoh ants begin new colonies by budding. This means that a small group of workers and a single queen migrate from their colony to start a new colony.

pharaoh ant image

More Information

Pharaoh Ant Pheromone

Pharaoh Ant Infestation