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Everything About Pharaoh Ants and How to Eliminate them From your
Home or Business

Name: Pharaoh Ant
Latin Name: Monomorium pharaonis

Likely having Afrotropic origins, the pharaoh ant has been introduced in virtually everywhere in the world, through trade commerce. Pharaoh ants are a notorious indoor nuisance pest, especially in hospitals, where when looking for high-temperature places to nest, they tend to crawl under bandages and into open wounds where they can transmit diseases like salmonella. Particularly resilient against conventional treatments, an infestation of Pharaoh ants can be painstaking to route out. The species tendency towards budding, or establishing satellite colonies at the first sign of danger, and can nest in inaccessible and unlikely locations in the home; in wall voids, between studs, under floorboards, between books on a shelf, outlets, and bedsheets. Pharaoh ants are also able to communicate and establish trails using several pheromones, including repellent pheromones that communicate the presence of danger to nestmates. A tropical species, Pharaoh ants, have a tendency to colonize heated structures and can proliferate quite quickly, infesting several locations of the home simultaneously. Certain home remedies may help to control populations, but in the event of a sighting of several trailing ants contact a licensed pest control technician immediately.

How do you get rid of Pharaoh ants?
Pharaoh ants are exterminated by placing baits, consisting of ground liver mixed with boric acid, in places where the ants forage. Renewing the baits may be necessary. We recommended not using sprays and dust because they will cause the pharaoh ants to scatter. It was the first ant species discovered to use a negative (repellent) pheromone. Able to emit several pheromones, these chemicals are integral for communication in this species.

How to identify Pharaoh Ants
The Pharaoh ant is tiny; workers are typically 2 mm long and queens tend to be closer to 4 mm in length. Pharaoh ants are a nearly transparent yellow or light brown colour. Pharaoh ants have two nodes between the thorax and the abdomen, an evenly rounded thorax, and a three-segmented club on each antenna.

Life stages & anatomy:
Pharaoh ant queens can lay hundreds of eggs in their relatively short lifetimes, typically in batches of 4-12. Under optimal, relative humidity conditions, Pharaoh ants will reach adulthood in 36-45 days. Laying an average of 400 eggs in its lifetime, a queen pharaoh ant lives for between 4 months and one year, with workers averaging about the same. They breed continuously throughout the year in heated buildings and mating occurs in the nest. Pharaoh ant queens produce reproductive males and females about twice a year. Having no nestmate recognition capability, Pharaoh ants do not fight other pharaoh ants, and members of foreign colonies can often travel freely through nests. The lack of intraspecies competition is conducive to the formation of supercolonies that can host several hundred queens and several hundred thousand workers. Pharaoh ants will establish satellite colonies due to overcrowding, changing environmental conditions including temperature and food sources or the presence of insecticides and other threats.

Distinguishing features/insects resembling Pharaoh ants
Thief ants are often mistaken for being Pharaoh ants due to their similar size and colouration. Several differences can be viewed under a microscope, but two readily accessible differentiations are:
1) Pharoah ants do not have small stingers on their oblong abdomen, Theif ants do.
2) Thief ants curl up into a ball when they die, Pharaoh ants do not.

Signs of a Pharaoh Ant Infestation
The physical presence of several Pharaoh ants indicates a possible infestation. Sighting ants inside your home indicates that foragers have entered in search of food, or that there is a harbourage of innumerable insects already present in the structure.

Where did they come from / how did I get them?
Most active during Southern Ontario’s spring and summer months, Pharaoh ants will often enter structures in search of food sources when weather conditions are dry and hot, and when escaping flooded nests after rain. Budding is also a major factor underlying the invasiveness of Pharaoh ants. A single seed colony can populate a large office block, apartment building or townhome complex in less than six months. Elimination and control are difficult colonies have a tendency to bud, quickly forming smaller satellite colonies during extermination programs, only to repopulate later.

What do Pharaoh ants eat?
Pharaoh ants consume a wide variety of foods typical of ant diets including grease, sugar and dead insects.

How Serious are Pharaoh Ants?
Pharaoh ants are a notorious indoor nuisance pest, especially in hospitals, where when looking for high-temperature places to nest, they tend to crawl under bandages and into open wounds where they can transmit diseases like salmonella. Pharaoh ants are not known to bite humans but may gnaw holes in silk, rayon and rubber goods and will frequently raid/contaminate food stores.

How Addison can help Prevent Pharaoh Ant Infestations in the Future:
Inspect all incoming plant and organic matter before establishing it on your property or bringing it into your home. Even if the origin of an infestation is rooted out, it is important to be stringent in your implementation of physical controls; fill cracks in building facades, and seal window frames (refit if necessary). Keep outdoor spaces dry and open to sunlight, clear debris that creates humid and moist conditions for ant colony-building, and lift firewood off the ground. Establish a perimeter clear of organic matter of at least 1ft around the structure. Shrubs and tree branches should be cut back from your home to limit access points to the structure. Inside, kitchens should be kept clear of spills and crumbs; food should be kept tightly sealed, keep organic waste in the freezer, seal moisture drips and leaks from drains and plumbing, repair cracks and fissures in floors and walls. Most ants who invade homes tend to be ‘budding’ members of larger colonies that are working to establish smaller satellite nests. It is important to inspect moist and decaying wood and wood structures like decks, porches, sheds, playsets on your property and to remove any dilapidated structures or potential harbourages.

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