Have you ever had a pest problem before? If the answer is yes, then you understand how challenging and annoying it can be to get rid of them. Bed bugs, flea control, and cockroach infestations are also a serious issue to contend with. Likewise an ant infestation can be a problem. Fire Ants, Carpenter Ants and many other ants can cause a number of issues in your home. A Pharaoh Ant infestation will prove to be just as difficult. Pharaoh Ants, scientifically known as Monomorium pharaonis, look very similar to other types of ants. They are tiny, about 2 mm long, their body is a yellow color with black and red marks on the abdomen, and they have three segmented antennas. They are most commonly found in the southern part of the United States but are known all across the country. The best places to find Pharaoh Ants are in warm, humid and damp areas that have good access to food sources—they also love hard-to-reach areas.
You’re probably asking why understanding what they look like is so important; they’re harmless, right? Well, while they may be harmless they are a huge nuisance, incredibly hard to get rid of, can bite, and they can easily transfer about 12 different pathogens. Let’s get into more detail about this.
Pharaoh Ants live in massive colonies that can have as many as 300,000 worker ants and queens. The size of the nest that they create, which is usually located in hard to reach places that are warm, humid, and near food sources and moisture (i.e. wall voids), depends on how much space they have in the area that they’re nesting in. The male Pharaoh Ants are all the same size, 2 mm; they tend to be black and have straight antennae, while the queens are usually 4 mm long and are slightly darker in color.
They’re hard to get rid of because only the worker Pharaoh Ants go out to find food. Once they find that food, they will leave a trail of pheromones to find it again, take a little bit, and go back to the colony with the food. So, if you see just one or two Pharaoh Ants, then you are not even witnessing the beginning of the colony. You might be wondering what kind of food they seek out. Well, they tend to look for sweet, fatty, or oily food. They can seek these types of food out even if you’ve just left them out uncovered for a little bit or any leftover crumbs.
Another reason why they’re so hard to get rid of is that they are persistent. If they are disturbed or stressed in any way, they will break off into smaller groups and find a new place to nest; this is called budding. Because there are so many queens—fertile females in the colony—there usually isn’t an issue if the queen goes to a different location or dies because they can easily find another female to make their queen. Then the process just continues.
Queen Pharaoh Ants can produce more than 400 eggs; these are produced in batches of 10 to 12 eggs at a time. They can live for up to 12 months, but the males die within weeks of mating with the queen. So, even when one dies, there’s a few hundred more waiting to be born—the eggs take about 42 days to develop into an adult. If you think about it, Pharaoh Ants are basically recharging and adding back those that they lose throughout the months every 42 days—that’s not a lot of time to work on dealing with them!
Pharaoh Ants are a big issue for hospitals, nursing homes, and bakeries, etc. because they will nest where there is food and because they’re so small they can get into any protective seals. Yes, they can squeeze their little bodies into the most secure food packaging you have and contaminate it. If Pharaoh Ants are infesting hospitals, it’s not just the food that is being contaminated and this is due to a couple of different reasons. Pharaoh Ants are known to be able to transmit about a dozen pathogens. (i.e. salmonella) Because of this, burn victims and newborns are at a high risk of catching one of these transmitted diseases. Plus, Pharaoh Ants have been seen seeking out the moisture that comes from the mouths of sleeping babies and from IV bottles that are being used.
The chances are, if you have the opportunity to see one of these Pharaoh Ants, then you’ll see them mostly in the kitchen and bathrooms. They will typically be found amongst paper, clothes, sheets, on curtain rods, baseboards, and places where the cabinets are. They are very elusive and the chances are that, if you do see them, you’ll confuse them for a different, less harmful type of ant. But don’t think that since you’ve seen where the Pharaoh Ant has gone after finding a food source, then that is where the nest is: Chances are the nest isn’t nearby and they are ever hardly found.
So, now that you know that you might have a Pharaoh Ant problem how you should go about dealing with that? What are the best treatment options? How much will it cost and how long will it take? These are all valid questions and what we hope to answer for you in this article.
The first thing that you should know is that you shouldn’t purchase or spray any sort of ant killer around the Pharaoh Ants. If you do, it probably won’t kill them. Instead, it could stress them out and make it, so they start “budding” or dispersing into smaller colonies. If this happens, you’ll have a harder time getting rid of them from your house.
The best option is to use a baiting treatment. A baiting treatment basically involves putting out a trap that has a “food” or a substance that resembles food they look for. However, the substance is actually poison. This is the most effective way to go about getting rid of these pests because as the worker ants come out and grab the food and take it back to the colony, they will all slowly be poisoned and eradicated. When choosing a Pharaoh Ant bait, you should try to find one that is sugar based or protein/oil based because these are the types of foods that they search for when they’re foraging.
When you’re using the baiting treatment, you need to think strategically about where to place the traps. So, where should you place them? The most effective areas to place the baits include corners where two walls meet, the edges of door moldings and baseboards, and in the corners of windowsills. Try to find the area that you’ve seen the most Pharaoh Ants walking around foraging for food because as mentioned before, they will follow that same trail until they can’t find food there anymore.
If you really don’t know where to put the bait, then there’s a very simple trick that you can do to figure it out: All you’ll need is some honey and peanut butter. Here’s how to do it:
- Take a flat notecard or a piece of tin foil and place a large dab of honey and a large dab of peanut butter side by side on it.
- Place the card down in the corner of the floor where you think you’ve seen the most activity from the ants; you can do this in more than one area.
PRO TIP: The best places to put these cards are in the corner where walls meet, on window sills and around door frames.
- Repeat these steps as much as you want until you feel that you’ve covered all the areas that you think might be possible food sources for the ants might be.
In just a couple of hours, the ants will start to locate the honey and peanut butter food sources and start making trails to them. Keep an eye on these notecards for the next couple of days. The cards that receive the most attention from the Pharaoh Ants are probably the best areas to place your ant baits.
Which bait is the best one or one that would work the best for your situation? There are so many different types of baits out there, but some of the best ones are listed below:
- Maxforce Ant Bait Stations – These baits start working on killing the pharaoh ants in just six hours and will reduce the population of the ants by 90% in just four days. If your ant infestation doesn’t seem to be too big of an issue or you just want them taken care of quicker, then this is your best baiting option.
- Advance 360A Dual Choice Ant Bait Stations – These baits help with appeasing the ant’s appetites by offering a sweet and protein-based bait. Since the pharaoh ants tend to change what types of foods they want, this is another great option to consider.
- Advance Liquid Ant Bait – This bait is very similar to the Advance Dual Choice, but it’s balanced formula of sugar and water that the ants want. What’s great about this bait is that it will eventually kill the entire colony.
Which bait you choose is entirely up to you, but if you want the best that you can talk to a pest control professional for their opinion and advice regarding your infestation situation. No matter what you do, you should try hard to keep these baits, while most are non-toxic, away from your children and pets. It’s best to prevent anything from happening than just assuming that everything would be fine. Plus, this way you’ll be able to tell that it’s the ants who are interacting with the baits. You should also check these baits periodically so that you know if they’re empty or not.
What other things can do to help prevent Pharaoh Ants from infesting your house? Here are some tips and tricks that you can easily apply in your life that will help you reduce the chances of having a Pharaoh Ant infestation:
- Sanitation will be one of your best friends. Pharaoh Ants thrive on any crumbs that are left behind, any sugary or greasy residue left behind from any sort of cooking or eating. You should try to clean up every surface thoroughly regularly. You can even use vinegar and water to help clean up the floors to destroy the trails that the pharaoh ants create.
- Keep your pet’s food up and away from them. You can easily do this by placing their food dishes in water to help prevent them from gaining access to the dishes.
- Try to keep all sugary food in sealable containers, preferably Tupperware instead of plastic bags. Or you could try to refrigerate them if you can to further prevent them from accessing them.
- For long-term control, you should ensure that your house and the surrounding areas are clean and free from any moisture. By doing this, you give them less incentive to enter your house.
- Try to seal any small cracks and crevices that you might find around your house or building; this will help prevent them from easily gaining access to your home. Try to close off any cracks or holes that might be around any electrical wires or plumbing; they will go around these because of how small they are.
There is no right or wrong way to deal with Pharaoh Ants, and all the solutions mentioned are going to take time. Getting rid of Pharaoh ants can be a long and tedious process that can take weeks, months, or even years depending on the size of your house and how big the colonies are. No matter what method you decide is the best for you, either purchasing a baiting system or even contacting a pest control expert, you have to be patient and allow it to do its work. While you’re treating these ants or even just to help prevent your building or home from being infested by these pests, do your best at trying those tips and tricks described above to help lower the chances of an incredibly annoying infestation. Don’t let ants control your home. Do a little research and put an end to an infestation.