Credit: April Nobile
The Pharaoh Ant is a tiny ant about 1/10-1/16” long. Worker ants are reddish-yellow, the queen is usually darker red and males are black.
Small size with 3 segmented club on antennae, well-developed eyes, a bi-nodal petiole (narrow waist between thorax and abdomen) and no stinger present.
Omnivorous, feeding generally on animal or vegetable food, dead insects, small animals, open wounds, shed human skin on bedding, sucrose and IV solutions, sweets and fats.
Typically nests indoors are inside electrical conduits, in linen closets, in sterile surgical packets, under flowerpots, within walls of buildings, near water sources and in numerous other places. Pharaoh ants prefer areas with a temperature around 80F and a relative humidity of about 80%. Foraging workers may travel over 100 feet for food.
Pharaoh ant control has typically been based on the spraying of insecticides around areas where ants have been seen and/or dusting in wall voids and behind electrical switch plates with insecticide dusts. Although such methods may kill off the 5-10% of the ants that leave the nest looking for food and water, they do not usually result in colony elimination. Furthermore, pharaoh ant colonies will often become alarmed when treatment occurs and will split their colony into smaller units. This activity worsens the situation. Effective Pharaoh ant control utilizes an integrated pest management approach, with focus on ant baits containing insecticides. With baiting, proper placement of the bait will result in effective ant control, however attention must be paid to detail to ensure ant elimination – checking for ant activity and placing baits in correct situations. Along with correct bait placement it is essential that highest level of sanitation be maintained, ants must not be distracted from the bait by other food sources – such as crumbs, spillages, dirty dishes, etc.