Pharaoh Ant

Pharaoh Ant

Pharaoh-Ant
  • Common Name(s): Pharaoh Ant
  • Order: Hymenoptera
  • Family: Formicidae
  • Common Species: Monomorium pharaonis
  • Commonly Confused With: Other Ant Species

Characteristics

How to Identify?
Pharaoh ants are either yellow or reddish in color. They range from 0.15 to 0.2 centimeters in size. When looking at the abdomen (back section of an insect) you will see two nodes (bumps) connecting it to the thorax (middle section of an insect). You can differentiate termites and ants by looking at the antenna. Ants have an antenna that looks bent or elbowed while termites have a straight, beaded looking antenna.

Habitat

Where do they live?
These ants usually live in wall voids, wood, soil, etc. However, due to their size, they can nest just about anywhere. They have even been found nesting in between linens in the closet (Pharaoh’s Ant, 2007). They are also major hospice/hospital pests.

Food Source

What do they eat?
Pharaoh ants are scavengers, usually feeding on other insects. Indoors, they will typically search for fats, sugars, or oils.

Activity

What do they do?
These ants are one of the hardest, if not the absolute hardest, household ants to control. Due to their small size, these ants can mechanically vector diseases in hospitals/hospices. Mechanically vectoring a disease happens when a virus or other pathogen is transmitted by contact: an ant crawls along and picks up bacteria on its body, crawls on your food/IV/etc., bacteria is transferred to your food/IV/etc. by the ant. In comparison, mosquitoes transfer viruses, bacteria, etc. through a bite, which makes them chemical vectors. The small size of these ants leads to difficulty when trying to control them because they can easily access structures through any small opening, crack, or crevice.

Fun Fact

These ants do not start a new colony through mating (nuptial) flights like many other ant species. Instead, they grow new colonies through a process called budding. This is where many colonies split off from one another and grow into many separate colonies. This is one of the many reasons these ants can be so hard to control.

Source(s)

  • Pharaoh’s Ant. (2007). [Ebook] (p. 1). Retrieved from https://flrec.ifas.ufl.edu/media/flrecifasufledu/pdfs/pestants/PharaohsAnt.pdf

Author: G. Wyatt West– B.S.E.S University of Georgia 2017; Board Certified Entomologist
Photo Credit: Eli Sarnat, PIAkey: Invasive Ants of the Pacific Islands, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

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