Pharaoh ants receive their name from the misconception that they were one of the plagues of Egypt during the time of the Pharaohs. They are thought to have been native to African continent, however, it is still unknown. This does not mean they are limited to the African region. Pharaoh ants are found all over the world. They are found all throughout the United States.
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Pharaoh ant workers are very small and monomorphic, which means they are all one size and one form. They are about 1.5-2.0 mm long. Pharaoh ants are a pale yellowish to reddish color on their body with a black shading on the top of their rear portion of their abdomens. Queen Pharaoh ants are about 4mm long and are slightly darker in color than the worker ants. They may or may not have wings. Male Pharaoh ants are 2mm long, black in color, and are all winged. Unlike worker, female ants however, males ants have straight antennae whereas female worker and queen pharaoh ants have elbowed wings.
The size of Pharaoh ant colonies vary in size. Some nests may be as small as just 100 worker ants and just one or two females. Other nests can be as big as several hundred thousand workers and several hundred reproducing female ants. Regardless of size though, Pharaoh ants prefer humid and warm climates. Although they can nest anywhere, they will nest in these humid, warm regions and will also nest near dependable food sources and water sources which will be in the wall void area, in furniture, under floors and linens, behind baseboards, and etc. They leave visible trails to and from water sources and food sources. They will frequently utilize electrical wires, telephone wires, plumbing lines, and other utility lines to enter a building. They will also enter through any crack and crevice that allows them to enter the building. In the northern regions, because Pharaoh ants prefer the warmer climates, they will more commonly be found indoors. In the southern regions however, Pharaoh ants are able to survive outdoors. Outdoors, Pharaoh ants will nest and breed in areas like collected debris and will enter buildings to forage for food. They can enter buildings through old or poorly caulked and defective windows and/or through weep holes.
Pharaoh ants extermination will be the most effective when homeowners, or anyone else who is trying to kill Pharaoh ants, understand the biology of the ants completely before they begin the process of pharaoh ant treatment. Also, a correct strategy by using the correct Pharaoh ant baits should be planned before a treatment is started. Getting rid of Pharaoh ants seem difficult, however a pharaoh ant infestation is nothing that cannot be eradicated.
Before applying any pesticides or Pharaoh ant killers, understand that the typical use of liquid insecticides or dust insecticides will often times leave a negative effect on the infestation. It can actually make a situation worse than it may already be because typical insecticides can cause the colony to bud or split into several new colonies. Initially, after the first liquid treatment is done, there will be a false sense of eradication for about 10 days. This is the time frame in which the Pharaoh ants are relocating, rebuilding, and reorganizing. Once they have settled into a new nesting area, they will resume their normal routines and reappear and this cycle will be repeated several times. For a complete control of Pharaoh ants, an initial inspection to find the location of the ants is crucial. Areas with moisture sources like sinks, potted plants, etc and also areas near food sources like the trash can, window sills, microwave, stovetops, pet food, etc will be primary areas of location. Outside, areas of the flat roofs that are shaded will also be areas of infestation.
Ant baits will be the most effective and usually the only method that works against Pharaoh ants. Baits should be placed in foraging ant trails and all suspected areas of Pharaoh ant activity. There should be one bait station per trail of ants. Also, ant bait stations should be placed close to food sources and water sources as well as nesting sites. Outdoors, baits must be placed in all areas of activity which will include the roof, the foundation, and even fences which are used for travel. It is important that baits and bait stations are not sprayed or even disturbed. Also, avoid cleaning around and over baits. Naturally, Pharaoh ants will leave pheromone trails that lead them to and from food sources. Cleaning these areas will disturb the natural trails that are made and will potentially cause them to search elsewhere for food.