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Pharaoh Ants

      

Workers are all the same size,
1/16-inch long

Thorax uneven in shape when viewed
from side with no spines

Yellow or honey-colored
to orange

Because of their very small size, Pharaoh ants are often considered a minor pest but if they are ignored they can multiply rapidly and become a serious risk to health. They are one of the most difficult pests to eliminate in structures requiring the training and experience of a professional.  Pesticide sprays will only worsen the problem.
Nests
Up to 300,000 workers with multiple queens will nest in wall and cabinet voids, behind baseboards, behind refrigerator insulation, inside hollow curtain rods, or in the folds of sheets, clothes, or paper. They follow plumbing and wiring and have been found in light switches and electrical outlets. In colder climates they prefer to nest in heated buildings.  Colonies are very mobile; workers, along with larvae, pupae, and even a few queens, may move to new locations if disturbed or if colony becomes too large.  New nests can be formed by "budding" with as few as 5 workers, 10 preadults, and one queen migrating from the original colony. Development time (egg to adult) for workers is about 38 days at 80 degrees F. Workers live about 9-10 weeks, with only up to 10% out foraging at any given time. Queens live about 4-12 months, and males die about 3-5 weeks after mating.
Health Risk
In some areas, this ant has become a major pest of residences, food plants, factories, office buildings, apartments, and hospitals. Infestations in hospitals have become a chronic problem in Europe and the United States where burn victims and newborns are subjected to increased risk because the Pharaoh ant can transmit over a dozen pathogenic pathogens. Pharaoh ants have been observed seeking moisture from the mouths of sleeping infants and from in-use IV bottles.

Control
Control of Pharaoh ants is difficult, due to their nesting in inaccessible areas. Treatment must be thorough and complete at all nesting sites, as well as the foraging area. Thus, treatment must include walls, ceilings, floor voids, and electrical wall outlets. Baits are now the preferred method of control for Pharaoh ants and several baits (insecticides) are labelled for indoor ant control. A Pharaoh ant infestation of a multifamily building requires treatment of the entire building to control the infestation. Ants nesting on the outside may be controlled by also using a perimeter barrier treatment
.

Baits cannot be placed in just any location and be expected to work. Pharaoh ant trails and their resources (both food and water) must be located for proper placement of baits and effective control. Non-repellent baits (such as boric acid, hydramethylon or sulfonamide) should be used, as repellent baits can worsen the situation by causing the colony to fracture and bud. As a result, ant activity will briefly diminish as as the new colonies establish themselves, then again become a problem as the foragers resume activity in a new location.

 

An extensive baiting program, combined with exclusion and sanitary practices, is the best way to manage pharaoh ant populations. Insecticide sprays will only make infestations worse by dispersing colonies to new locations. Be sure to distinguish pharaoh ants from thief ants which are similar looking but not as easy to control with baits.

 

When ants invade your home, take immediate action

  • Sponge invaders with soapy water as soon as you see them.
  • Plug up ant entryways with caulk or petroleum jelly.
  • Clean up food sources such as sugary spills, pet food, or garbage.
  • Rely on baits to control the ant colony but choosing the wrong one could worsen the problem. .
  • Insecticide sprays are not effective for pharaoh ants.
  • If you are not prepared for failure, call a professional.

Thatching Ants                      Carpenter Ants



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