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Pharaoh Ant Monomorium pharaonis

 

Size:

Very small, about 1/8-inch in length and may easily be confused with several other types of pest ants.

Color:

Yellow

Behavior:

This pest ant can be very difficult to control and eliminate. When foraging worker ants are killed by residual treatments, the colony will fracture or split into two or more colonies to ensure part of the colony survives. If such treatments are continued, the infestation is spread throughout the building. Pharaoh ants typically establish themselves in areas near moisture, such as the kitchen or bathroom. They travel from room to room within the walls via plumbing pipes and electrical wires.

Pharaoh ants will nest in virtually any site that provides protection. Colonies have been found nesting in walls, furniture and appliances, but they have also been discovered in unique locations such as between the folds of sheets in closets, hollow curtain rods, inside irons, in small boxes and under roofing shingles. They are extremely opportunistic in their selection of nesting sites.

Pharaoh ants can only be controlled by effective placement of ant baits. The type of bait that is ultimately successful is one on which the colony or colonies involved will feed for an extended period of time. The foraging workers return the bait to the colony, feeding it to other workers, larvae and queens.

Unique Characteristics:
Pharaoh ants are known for their ability to “get into things”, often penetrating even the most sterile environments, including hospitals and surgery rooms. They have even been observed seeking moisture from the mouths of sleeping newborn infants and from in-use IV bottles as well as blood plasma and wound dressings. They have even been found in sealed packs of sterile dressing.

Control:
Pharaoh ants pose a major threat due to their ability to nest indoors in almost every area of a building. They are thought to be able to transmit over a dozen pathogens, making their presence in hospitals in such sterile areas as burn centers extremely problematic.

Sealing any cracks or holes with caulking is helpful in reducing Pharaoh ant infestation. Setting ant baits in foraging “hot spots” around heated or moist areas works by distributing the poison to the various colonies. Although they have been known to avoid certain pesticides, a baiting regimen spread over an extended period of time often works best.

When insecticides are prohibited around high-tech equipment and in health areas, use sticky tapes, double-faced adhesive tapes and masking tape (glue side out) wrapped around objects as barriers.

Diet:

Food of all types, but especially sweets. Will also eat other insects.

Reproduction:

Grows from egg to adult in about 45 days. Females live as long as 39 weeks and can lay about 400 eggs. Workers only live up to 10 weeks.

Pharaoh ants are small, yellow ants.  Their thorax is typically darker, helping to locate the ant. They are present in almost every area in the world and are considered to be a major pest due to their ability to survive in indoor areas. Hospitals frequently require control for pharaoh ants, as they can quickly spread disease and contaminate sterile equipment and rooms.

Pharaoh Ant

Pharaoh Ant

Unlike some other ant species, 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 twelve months, but male pharaoh ants die within three to five weeks of mating. Pharaoh ants begin new colonies by budding out. This means that a small group – a minimum of five workers, ten preadults and a single queen – migrate from their colony to start a new colony.

Pharaoh ants can build nests in walls, cabinet voids, behind baseboards, refrigerator insulations, 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. This creates multiple problems where there had been only one. In controlling pharaoh ants, it is often advisable to seek professional help.

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