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Pharaoh Ants in the House: What Should You Do?

Group of Pharaon ants.

Really tiny, but hard to get rid of, pharaoh ants often infiltrate our homes looking for heat and food.

Discover how to identify them, the risks associated with their presence, and the efficient ways to eliminate them.

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The Pharaoh Ant: a Tiny Ant that Can Be Very Invasive!

The pharaoh ant is really small. The workers are only about 1.5 mm to 2.5 mm long, and the queen can grow up to 5 mm long. Their colour goes from pale to reddish yellow.

It’s the shape of their body that distinguishes them from pavement ants, which are also small and brown. Pharaoh ants have an elongated body with a slightly darker abdomen, contrasting with the paler thorax.

They are an extremely invasive ant species that reproduces rapidly in homes.

Ants that Travel in Single File

This small, subtly coloured ant can be difficult to spot. However, it is possible to notice the visible paths that pharaoh ants take as they walk one behind the other, in single file. In fact, they are following chemical traces left by other ants to show them the way between the food and the nest.

You may see them mainly near a source of food in the house. They are especially fond of foods that are sweet or high in fat content.

Pharaon ants on a sugar spoon on a table.

Pharaoh Ants in the House: What Are the Risks?

An infestation of pharaoh ants inside a home is a significant nuisance. This species is responsible for damaging property as well as for spreading bacteria.

Damage to Property

Even though pharaoh ants are not known for causing direct structural damages like termites or carpenter ants do, they can still inflict a certain degree of material damage.

They have the surprising ability to infiltrate electronic devices and electrical junction boxes, which can cause short-circuits or power failures. A significant presence of pharaoh ants could also interfere with mechanical equipment and ventilation systems.

Health Implications

When they invade homes, businesses, restaurants, hospitals or other premises where food is served, pharaoh ants become a health hazard.

This species is known for spreading pathogenic bacteria like salmonella, staphylococcus or E. coli by crawling all over food or kitchen utensils.

Does the Pharaoh Ant Sting?

Pharaoh ants do not sting. Their stinger is atrophied and cannot pierce through human skin.

Why Do Pharaoh Ants Invade My House?

In Québec, pharaoh ants only build their nests in heated buildings. So they usually establish themselves in homes or businesses where they can find heat, humidity, and food. It’s not surprising their presence is quite widespread in urban areas, where buildings are the perfect environment for their proliferation.

They are especially attracted to food residue on floors, counters, and pantries.

Where Do They Build Their Nests?

These little ants are able to reproduce fast. Their colonies include several queens that continuously lay eggs and can also start up more colonies in different locations in the house.

They prefer areas that are difficult to reach and damp, like a bathroom. They build nests in hollow walls, beneath floors, behind baseboards, and in areas surrounding pipes and cables.

Thanks to these strategic locations near heat and humidity sources, colonies are free to grow out of sight.

How to Prevent an Infestation of Pharaoh Ants

Where pharaoh ants are concerned, prevention is much better than the cure. Here are a few preventive measures you can take to avoid finding yourself in the middle of an infestation:

  • Keep food in airtight containers (including pet food).
  • Make your pet’s food bowls inaccessible to pharaoh ants by placing the bowls in the centre of a basin filled with soapy water.
  • Remove trash regularly.
  • Fill in cracks and fissures with caulk where they might be able to crawl through (doors, windows, foundations, etc.).

How Can You Eliminate Pharaoh Ants in the House?

Pharaoh ants are difficult to exterminate. They are an invasive species able to form multiple colonies that can number thousands of ants. Moreover, they resist chemical products.

It is important to refrain from trying to eradicate pharaoh ants with the help of spray (aerosol) insecticides. These types of products could worsen the problem by causing stress on the colony, which will then go into a state of alert. Sensing a threat, it will generate new queens that will establish new nests elsewhere in the house.

Which Insecticides to Choose for a Treatment Against Pharaoh Ants

To exterminate pharaoh ants, sugar and protein-based bait near the nests. The goal is to eliminate the queens that are present in the colonies by enticing the workers to bring the product back into the nest, without the ants sensing any threat.

An exterminator will be able to advise you on the best technique to use to eradicate the infestation.

Call on Ant Extermination Specialists

Exterminating pharaoh ants is a complex task, as this species possesses excellent adaptive skills. As a result, you’ll be better off if you call an exterminator as soon as you notice the presence of this invasive species in your home or establishment.

We’ll be able to confirm whether the invaders are pharaoh ants or not, locate the nest and install efficient bait traps to resolve your problem with pharaoh ants as quickly as possible.

Contact us! We’re available to answer your questions 7 days a week.