Pharaoh antPharaoh Ants

Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Scientific Name: Monomorium pharaonis (Linnaeus)
Color: Varies from yellowish to reddish
Legs: Six
Shape: Segmented, oval
Size: Very small, about 1/8-inch in length
Antennae: Yes
Flight: No, although reproductives have wings

Pharaoh ants get their name from the mistaken belief that it was a plague of Egypt during the time of the Pharaohs. Originally from the tropical regions of Africa, Pharaoh ants can be found throughout the United States.

Pharaoh ant colonies can be quite large with workers numbering in the thousands to as many as 300,000 with numerous queens. These ants feed on a wide variety carbohydrates and proteins, including dead insects, meat and fruits.

In the northern United States, these ants do not live outdoors. Indoors, they prefer dark cracks and crevices such as cabinet voids, expansion joints in concrete slabs, behind baseboards or moulding. They have also been know to nest in linen, hollow curtain rods, irons and stored newspapers.

These ants are a particular problem in hospitals where they have been known to feed on open wounds, invade IV bottles taht are in-use and obtain moisture from the mouths of speeping infants. Over a dozen pathogenic bacteria have been associated with Pharaoh ants.

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 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.

(Source: National Pest Management Association, et. al.)