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    How to get Pharaoh Ants to Pass Over your Home

    Monday, March 08, 2021 | Mid-Cities Pest Control

    March has arrived, bringing with it a welcome change from the cold winter weather, and the hope that is endemic to spring. This hope is perhaps best exemplified in the celebrations of Passover, that will begin at the end of this month, and of Easter, which will occur in early April. As holidays, they remind us of the miracles of life and freedom and present some of the most well-known stories in our history. In fact, they are so ingrained in our culture, that the story of Passover is believed to have inspired the naming of the Pharaoh ant, an ant species native to Africa. According to PestWeb, in 1758 the scientist Carl Linnaeus gave the name Pharaoh ant to this species after studying a specimen from Egypt; it is believed that Linnaeus may have considered it as one of the ten plagues of Egypt. Given the pervasiveness of this ant species, its ability to spread disease, and it’s remarkable ability to survive and thrive, it’s little wonder that they could have been seen as a plague. Even today, these small ants can quickly become a significant cause for concern, and are notorious for being exceptionally difficult to eliminate.

    What do Pharaoh Ants Look Like?

    Pharaoh ants (often referred to generically as a sugar ant or piss ant) are among some of the smallest ants you are likely to encounter, being only 1.5 to 2 mm long (this is about the size of the tip of a new crayon). They range in color from yellow or light brown to red and often have a darker abdomen. And though they do have a stinger, they rarely exsert it, and do not sting humans. Due to their small size and variation in coloring, they can often be confused with several other types of small ants, which is one reason why it’s so important to seek professional advice when faced with an ant issue, as different ants require different treatment plans. If you see an ant you think could be a Pharaoh ant call TheBugDude at 800-310-BUGS (2847) to give you a definitive ID and create a treatment plan tailored to this pest and your home.

    Where do Pharaoh Ants Live?

    Though this ant is native to Africa and thrives best in warm southern regions, it has spread worldwide and can be found on every continent except Antarctica. It is primarily an indoor pest, preferring to nest in heated buildings and take advantage of the water and food sources associated with them; however, in tropical regions and southern latitudes they can be found nesting outdoors.

    Pharaoh ants create nests that can range in size from a few dozen to several hundred thousand individuals. They are known for their habit of budding (splitting) their colonies into numerous daughter colonies, which maintain a peaceable relation to the mother colony while increasing the size and range of the infestation. These daughter colonies can grow quickly as the workers only need 38 days to develop from egg to adult, and males and queens only need 42 days. A single queen can produce 400 or more eggs and can live between 4 and 12 months; however, for large Pharaoh ant colonies there can be several hundred reproductive females.

    Within a structure, these ants nest primarily in inaccessible, warm, humid areas that are near food and water sources. Though wall voids are a particularly favorite nesting place, they can also be found in furniture, under floors, between sheets of paper, in layers of fabrics, in appliances, etc. Because these ants live in hidden areas of a structure and do not release winged swarmers during mating season, the only way you are likely to know you have a Pharaoh ant infestation is when you see one of them out foraging for food.

    What do Pharaoh Ants Eat?

    Pharaoh ants aren’t terribly particular about their food sources and will eat most anything containing sweets, oils, or proteins. This can range from peanut butter to pastries, to other insects. Because of this generalized diet, they can be found near just about any food source, and are commonly found in commercial food establishments including ones you might not think of, such as hotels and hospitals.

    Are Pharaoh Ants Dangerous?

    Though Pharaoh ants themselves aren’t dangerous to people (they don’t bite or sting) or home (they aren’t a wood-destroying pest), they are known to spread more than a dozen diseases. Among the diseases they are known to spread are Salmonella, Staphylococcus, and Streptococcus. This makes them both a monetary problem (as any food or sterile areas they get into are now contaminated and need to be thrown out or sterilized) and a safety problem. Of particular concern are infestations in hospitals as these ants have been known to seek moisture from the mouths of sleeping patients and even from in-use IV bottles. Given their ability to transmit disease, this is of special concern for anyone who is at high risk of infection, such as burn victims and infants.

    How do you Prevent Pharaoh Ants?

                    When it comes to small ants, and Pharaoh ants in particular, it is virtually impossible to fully prevent them from being able to enter your home. As such, the best approach is to limit any easy access points and to make your home a less ideal location for them to set up a colony. Here are a few tips on how you can accomplish those goals:

    • Most importantly: Do not self-treat for these ants, at the first signs of infestation call The Bug Dude at 817-354-5350 to have our experts put down the correct products to eliminate these pests. Using an incorrect product can cause the colony to bud or split, making the process of eliminating the infestation much more complicated and time-consuming.
    • Seal any entry points around your home or establishment (this includes cracks and small openings).
    • Keep all food areas clean and free from crumbs.
    • Store food in airtight containers.
    • Trim back any overhanging tree limbs.
    • Trim back bushes and shrubs so they do not touch the structure.
    • Eliminate any areas of standing water in and around the home.
    • Maintain a regular pest control service plan with The Bug Dude to keep your home pest free.

    How do you Eliminate Pharaoh Ants?

    The first step you should take if you are confronted with an infestation you think may be Pharaoh ants is to call The Bug Dude at 817-354-5350. Pharaoh ants are not a pest to be trifled with, as their habit of budding/splitting their colonies and their knack for getting into hard to access areas make them a notoriously difficult pest to control. If the proper treatment is not performed, it can cause the colony to bud and increase the severity and duration of the infestation. This is why our technicians have been trained on the most effective products to use for a Pharaoh ant infestation as well as the correct areas in which to place the products to eliminate the colony/colonies as quickly as possible so they don’t plague your springtime celebrations.

    Further Reading:

    “common name: Pharaoh ant” – J.C. Nickerson and D.L. Harris, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry; and T.R. Fasulo, University of Florida – University of Florida

    “Pharaoh Ants” – PestWorld.org

    “Pharaoh Ant” – Texas Invasive Species Institute

    “Creature Feature: Pharaoh Ants” – PestWeb – Veseris

    Author Bio: Alissa Breach has been gaining knowledge and experience around pest control concerns over the last 11 years while working for Mid-Cities Pest Control. She has a creative writing BA from UW-Madison and is always pursuing new and interesting writing projects.

    Photos by Andre A. Xavier, Asiya Kiev, Martha Dominguez de Gouveia, and Jim Reardan

    The Bug Dude Blog