Pharaoh ants are particularly troublesome as pests due to their resilience. A pharaoh ant colony that has multiple queens can contain up to 300,000 workers. When a colony is disturbed, it will often disperse, with the ants scattering and establishing multiple colonies in the home. Workers mature in just 38 days and live up to 10 weeks. A pharaoh ant queen lives anywhere from four to 12 months, but the death of a queen doesn’t have a significant impact, as there are always others within the colony.
These hardy ants can make a home in any dark area. Nests are often small enough to fit in a thimble. The pharaoh ant can nest between sheets of paper, in the folds of clothings, behind baseboards, beneath stones, inside light fixtures, and in furniture. They often prefer kitchen and bathroom faucets, as they can easily obtain water from these areas. Their only limitation is temperature. Pharaoh ants prefer warm areas between 80 and 86 degrees. They cannot nest outdoors in cool climates, though they exist throughout the U.S. due to their ability to nest indoors.
An omnivorous insect, the pharaoh ant will consume nearly any type of food. They may feed on sweets, meat, greasy foods, insects, seeds, drains, nuts, and nectar. They have a preference for used medical bandages as well, drawing them to medical settings.
Pharaoh ants are a major problem in hospitals and rest homes where they present a contamination hazard. They will readily nest in unsanitary areas like intravenous drip systems, inside packages of sterile dressing, and on surgical wounds. Pharaoh ants can transmit salmonella, staphylococcus, streptococcus, and many other pathogens, making them a serious threat in medical settings. Their tiny size allows them to infiltrate nearly any areas, including recominant DNA laboratories.
It’s difficult to identify and locate nesting colonies for pharaoh ants. The most common sign of an infestation is simply the trail of tiny yellow ants themselves. If you detect a pharaoh ant infestation, you should seek professional help with removal. Pharaoh ants are resistant to many common methods of extermination. When disturbed, they simply scatter, often exacerbating the problem. Baiting programs must be very comprehensive to eradicate the problem completely.