The Pharaoh Ant King Of Infestors

The Pharaoh ant Monomorium pharaonis, This household ant is distributed throughout the world and it is considered the most difficult ant to control in households.

Pharaoh ant has been distributed to all the regions of the earth through commerce. The ant is probably a native of the African continent. It does not nest outdoors in northern latitudes, it has adopted very well in south Florida.

Pharaoh Ant Colonization

The Pharaoh ant workers are monomorphic, and do vary in length slightly and are approximately 1/16 to 5/64 of an inch long.  They have 12 segment antennae with a club.

The colony consists of an immature stage, workers, males and a queen. Nesting will occur in In temperatures of 80 to 86°Farenhieght and with humidity of 80%,

They nesting areas near inaccessible areas near sources of water and or food, such as in wall voids kitchen and baths.

The size of colonies tend to be very large and occupy thousands of ants or even several hundred thousand ants. It takes about 38 days for an egg to adult of a worker.

Mating takes place in the nest with no swarming ants with wings, It will usually take male and queen ants 42 days to molt from egg to adult. Males are the same size as the workers about 5/64 of an inch long, are black in color.

Males are not often found in the colony. The queens are about 5/32 of an inch long and are slightly darker than the workers.

Queens can live 4 to 12 months and produce eggs in batches of 10 to 12 producing more than 400.  Males will die within 3 to 5 weeks after mating.

The success and persistence of the Pharaoh ant are directly related to the habit of budding or splitting the colonies, this is what makes it so difficult to control with traditional methods.

Budding happens when a queen along with a few workers break off from the mother colony to form a daughter colony.

Even with no queen workers will develop a queen from the brood, which they transport from the mother colony.

Pharaoh Ant Infestation

In the US the Pharaoh ant is considered a major indoor with the ability to survive traditional household pest control baseboard spray treatments thus establishing colonies throughout an entire building.

The ant has a unique ability to “get into things.” Including the most secure things, this is a major problem for sensitive facilities like hospitals, laboratories, hotels, manufacturing or anywhere food medicines or where patients are because it can transmit over 12 different pathogens such as Salmonella, Staphylococcus, and Streptococcus.

The ant is known to infest almost all areas of a building where food is and infests many other areas where food is not found.  Pharaoh ants have a wide palette consuming sweets, fats, or oils.

Workers of the Pharaoh ant can be seen on feeding trails, they often use wiring or water pipes to travel across walls and floors. When a worker locates a food it will lay a chemical trail known as a pheromone trail to lead other ants from the nest to the food source.

Pharaoh ants are attracted to sugars and fats in foods which can be used to locate the nests. Pharaoh ants will nest anywhere and everywhere you least expect, between sheets of paper, folded bed linen and clothing, in any appliance, and piles of garbage.

Pharaoh Ant Control

The control of Pharaoh ants can be very difficult for most homeowners as they may need training in the use of multiple products and their correct application, mainly due to them making nets in inaccessible areas. Pharaoh ants can be confused with the bigheaded ant and fire ant along with several other species of small and pale ants.

Treatment needs to be thorough and complete of all nesting sites and foraging areas. A complete control treatment must include wall voids, ceiling voids, floor voids, and wall outlets.

Baits work best for the control for Pharaoh ants but using them along with sprays will contaminate the bait and cause ants to bud or move making the control that much more difficult later.

If the infestation is in an apartment building then treatment of the entire building will be required achieve control. Pharaoh ants nest on the exterior can be controlled with a combination of baits, granular and liquid spray applications.

The use of  IGRs insect growth regulators that disrupt the molting stage from juvenile to adult, an IGR will prevent the production of the worker ant and sterilize the queen. IGRS are not a quick fix but part of a long term strategy as they will take several weeks or months to affect a colony.