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What Are Pharaoh Ants and How to Get Rid of Them

You may not be familiar with pharaoh ants, but these tiny insects can be highly problematic. It takes just a stain of grease or a spill of a sugary beverage, and these ants can infest your home or office; they multiply at a fast pace and in high numbers, making it difficult to get rid of them.

Typically, pharaoh ants can be found in pantries, where they eat baked goods, honey, and peanut butter, or in other hidden locations, such as pipe chases. These insects can be the nightmare of supermarkets or bakeries: once they get into these types of spaces, it’s very difficult to get them out.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to recognize them, whether they are dangerous or not, and what are the best control methods to use if you are dealing with an infestation.

How to Recognize Pharaoh Ants

How do I know whether the ants that are infesting my space are actually pharaoh ants? Here’s a brief description of what they look like.

Pharaoh ants can have yellow, light brown, or red bodies, with a blackish abdomen. Usually the queen tends to be darker. They are 1/16 inch long (1.5 millimeters); the queens are twice that size.

It is important not to confuse pharaoh ants with other ants, such as thief ants, big-headed ants, or fire ants.

How Can Pharaoh Ants Infest Your Home?

It takes just a dirty pantry or some crumbs of food left on the floor to attract pharaoh ants into your home or office. These insects may enter your home through open windows or doors that are not properly sealed, or even through a crack in a wall.

One issue with these ants is their ability to “bud.” Budding is a phenomenon that occurs when a group of ants from one colony migrate with one queen to start a new colony elsewhere. Usually, budding happens when the colony feels threatened by a toxic substance or by some other type of disturbance. Once budding occurs, you will have to enact control measures against multiple colonies in different locations, which makes the process harder and more time consuming.

Are Pharaoh Ants Dangerous?

The short answer is: yes, pharaoh ants are potentially dangerous. However, you should not panic if you believe you have an infestation in your home.

The reason why they might pose a danger is that these ants are able to carry and transmit certain diseases (including salmonella and dysentery). That is why it’s so important to prevent an infestation inside a hospital, where the spread of such diseases could pose a serious threat to sick patients. Back in the 1980s, infestations in hospitals—especially in infant care units and burn units—caused nightmare scenarios that often made the headlines.

If you find any sort of food infested by pharaoh ants, you should discard it right away, since it can be infected with the diseases spread by the ants.

Yet, if your home or office happens to be infested by these insects, you should not panic, since there are ways to get rid of them.

How to Get Rid of Pharaoh Ants

So, how do you eliminate these insects in a fast and efficient way? It’s not so easy. In fact, pharaoh ants happen to be able to survive the majority of typical household pest controls or ant exterminators you can buy at the store.

Budding, the phenomenon we discussed earlier, is one major issue. If you use pesticides incorrectly, or you don’t use the right product, you are likely to cause budding, so that new colonies of ants form in new places around your home or office. One example could be the use of spray pesticides, which are unlikely to help you in your effort and might just spike the reproduction process.

Pharaoh ants nest in places that are often difficult to access; it’s important to perform control in the most thorough way possible to prevent budding from happening. It’s also important to locate the nesting areas as well as the ants’ sources of food (such as a pantry).

Control should be performed in all surrounding areas, including electrical outlets, walls, and even ceilings. The best way to eliminate pharaoh ants is through the use of specific baits. Ideally, baits should be placed by a professional, and must be replaced every few days for maximum efficacy. Gel and liquid baits—which the ants eat—can swiftly kill the worker ants, which are no longer able to provide the food for the colony, ultimately helping eliminate the entire colony.

A trick to monitor the baits is to track the exact locations where you have placed them on paper. First of all, you must make sure that the ants are falling for your bait (you will know this if the bait is diminishing and you see ants nearby). Then, regularly check the baits and add more supply as soon as you notice that the supply has been consumed or as you see it go bad. If the bait is not working, you need to change it with a different type of supply.

Another control method can be Insect Growth Regulators (IGR). This method sterilizes the queens of the colony, preventing them from reproducing.

The best solution, however, is to contact a professional who can show you the process or do it for you. This way, you will be sure to get rid of the infestation and you will not need to worry about it any longer. Whether your issue involves a residential property or an office, a pest inspector can quickly come to your location and assess the issue; a pest control service can get you started on a swift control solution.

How to Prevent an Infestation

Cleanliness and sanitation are the best practices you can adopt if you want to prevent an ant infestation in your home or office. Since pharaoh ants feed themselves on food leftovers, crumbs, oil stains, sugar, and other liquids, it’s important to avoid leaving these types of foods around the house. Every time you prepare a meal, clean up and put leftovers away.

Another way to prevent an infestation is to check for cracks or holes in your walls, doors, and windows. In addition, keep a good look on your pipes and faucets.

Have a question? Contact Provincial Pest Control for an estimate or an inspection.


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