How To Prevent Ants

Ant Control

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Pharaoh Ant

Pharaoh Ant


Light yellow to reddish brown in color, with abdomen often darker to blackish.

Where Found

This species is native to Africa, but has been spread by commerce to nearly every part of the world. The specific name, from which the common name was derived, resulted from Linnaeus' mistaken belief that the ant was one of the plagues of Egypt in the time of the Pharaohs. They generally nest inside, but also nest outside under rocks, in cracks, even on roofs near evaporative cooling units. They will establish outdoor nests when the temperature is warm and food source is available.


They are a common pest in homes, apartments, hotels, grocery stores, restaurants, hospitals, nursing homes, etc.


Pharaoh ants have a broad diet that includes fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Only 10% of the worker population will be foraging at a time. They are avid travelers and love to return to favorite spots. They will go quite a distance while foraging for food and have established trails. They also use electrical and telephone wires to get through walls and between floors. They can be seen trailing along windowsills, countertops, and baseboards. They will feed on a wide variety of materials and they have been observed to feed frequently on syrup, fruit juice, honey, jelly, cake, pie, grease, meat, or dead insects.


Generally, they nest indoors and new colonies are established by a "budding process". A mature colony contains a few hundred to thousands of workers with multiple queens. They do not swarm and mating occurs within the nest. Apparently, even ants have a sense of propriety about these things.


In hospitals, they are infamous. They will infest the dressing of patient wounds and follow IV tubes to sleeping patients. They also harbor pathogenic bacteria, and will contaminate food sources.


Inside, they will nest anywhere. They prefer warm and hard to reach places like wall voids, behind baseboards, under floors and between linens. Once they find a suitable nesting site inside, they will breed continuously throughout the year. In warmer climates, they will nest outside of the building.

Good Riddance

They are one of the more common household ants, and carry the dubious distinction of being the most difficult household ant to control. On the outside, treat all the ground with repellent chemical or granular bait at the recommended high rate. On the inside, use one of the approved ant baits.

Do not use any pesticides on the inside. Residual insecticide use will make the control effort more difficult. Place the stations out wherever the ants have been seen, particularly near the foraging and nesting sites. Baits can be placed both indoors and outdoors, depending on the activity.

Check the label for specific information; but in general, use three bait stations in an average size room or one bait station per 100 square feet of surface area. More bait stations may be needed for heavy infestations. If you cannot find any activity, put out some jelly and recheck later in the day. Remove the jelly and put your stations out where you see ants. The ants should be eliminated within a week. If ants continue to be a concern after two weeks, check for the following:

  • Did you make a thorough outside treatment? Ants could be nesting on the outside and coming inside for food and water.
  • Did you use any pesticides in the area you put out your stations, even days before you started the control measures?
  • Did you use enough stations?