The pharaoh ant is a small, 2 mm long ant. It is yellow to reddish brown in color and it has a dark abdomen in the rear of its body. Although the pharaoh ants are a tropical species, they can be found all over the world, including Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa and North and South America. Pharaoh ants thrive even in temperate climate if they can get into buildings with central heating.
The pharaoh ant colony has many queens and workers. Pharaoh ant colonies spread by a process called “budding” where a part of the colony comprising queens, workers and eggs, leave to form a new nest in an alternate location. “Budding” helps the pharaoh ants to spread all over the place. A single colony of pharaoh ants can multiply to occupy a complete building within six months. This is why pharaoh ants are infamous as major indoor pests and building administrators have to spend considerable time and effort to get rid of pharaoh ants.
Eliminating and controlling pharaoh ants is made difficult because of “budding”. When efforts are made to eliminate these ants, they break up into smaller colonies and survive; thereby making it more difficult to completely get rid of pharaoh ants. The very small size of pharaoh ant means they can get into small cracks and crevices. They are a major health hazard in hospitals because they can spread infection by accessing patient wounds and spreading germs. They also interfere with electrical systems. Indoors, the pharaoh ants nests are well hidden in protected areas which are warm. They can also nest outdoors in gardens.
The pharaoh ants eat all kinds of food, especially food that is sweet like honey, sugar, juices, soft drinks, syrups, jellies, desserts. They also eat other dead insects. They can also eat fabrics like rayon, silk and rubber goods.
A pharaoh ant can grow from egg to adult in forty five days. A worker ant can live up to ten weeks and a queen can live up to thirty nine weeks. Among the various household ants it is most difficult to get rid of Pharaoh ants.
To get rid of Pharaoh ants chemicals such as Deltamethrin, Dursban, Diazanon, etc are used. A commercially product called Terro is useful. Boric acid is also useful in exterminating pharaoh ant. Place baits which are laced with pharaoh ant exterminating material in places that the ants are present. The worker ants will bring back the bait food to the nest where other ants too will consume it and get exterminated.
Avoid sprays and dusts because these will only cause the pharaoh ants to scatter and spread, thereby making the situation worse in the long term.