Appearance A colony of pharaoh ants consists of workers (sterile females) which can grow to a length of between 1.5 and 2mm, and are yellow/brown in colour, with antennas and 12 segments. Fertile female pharaoh ants called queens can grow to a length of between 3.6-5mm and are a dark red in colour. While they do have wings they do not fly and they loose their wings soon after mating. Male pharaoh ants grow to a length of 3mm and are black in colour. Like the queen the male pharaoh ant has wings but does not fly either.
Habits & Habitat Pharaoh ants were first recorded in Britain in the early nineteenth century. They live in groups and different types of ants are responsible for certain duties within the colony. The worker ants (sterile females) have responsibility for building and extending the nest, looking after the larvae and foraging. It is when they look for food that they are a nuisance. The queens (fertile females) usually remain in the nest. Pharaoh ants are commonly found indoors. They need warm temperatures to breed and are thus usually associated with warm, centrally heated buildings. They are increasingly found in domestic properties.
Life Cycle The queens lay around 400 eggs throughout their lifetime in batches of 5-10. In two to four weeks the eggs hatch into tiny larvae (or grubs), which are fed by the sterile female workers. In a couple of weeks the larvae change into pupae – a resting phase. This resting stage lasts from two to four weeks before the young ants emerge. Queen ants live for about year and worker ants for 9-10 weeks. Worker ants remove the developing larvae from a nest and form a new (satellite) nest elsewhere. It is the ability of the Pharaoh ant to establish satellite nests in the absence of a queen ant that makes these ants so difficult to eradicate.
Significance There are no specific diseases associated with Pharaoh ants. However due to their extremely small size they are able to penetrate all but the most secure packaging. This means that they may contaminate foodstuffs intended for human consumption, with pathogens picked up whilst travelling through buildings. Pharaoh ant infestations within hospitals may pose additional risks to human health.
Control One treatment normally used for Pharaoh’s Ants is a food bait insecticide or ‘bait station’. They are baits that the ants treat as food and take back to their nest. The bait is then passed around the other ants in the nest. The aim is to kill the queen ant(s) and destroy the nest.
It is important not to use insecticide sprays or ‘ant powder’ with pharaoh ants, as this can make problems worse. Sprays kill the foraging (food seeking) ants before they can get the bait back to the nest. In some cases, where sprays have been used, the nest splits or ‘buds-off’ to form a new nest in another part of the property.
If you suspect you have a pharaoh ant infestation in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee or Perth, call GRAHAM pest control today and we could help