The Pharaoh Ant

how to identify pharaoh ants

How to identify pharaoh ants. By Julian.szulc – Own work, CC BY 3.0, 

Pharaoh ants are found throughout the country and in several nations throughout the world. One of the most common ant pests, these creatures can be incredibly difficult to control indoors, and are actually recognized by many pest management companies as some of the most difficult ants to control. If you think you might have a pharaoh ant infestation, make sure you brush up on this quick identification and elimination tips so that you can remove an infestation as soon as it occurs.


Pharaoh ants are much smaller than other types of ants, only growing to around two millimeters in length. They have pale yellow bodies with red and black marks on the abdomen.

Appearance, Behavior, and Signs

Pharaoh ants tend to come indoors for the winter, taking advantage of your home’s warm environment. Areas, where food is present, are the most common infestation sights, although these ants will build their nests in protected, hidden areas such as in refrigerator insulation and behind baseboards.

Pharaoh ants eat just about anything but prefer sweets and other insects. Females can live up to a year, with a mating pair producing hundreds of eggs and offspring in its lifespan. Pharaoh ants have multiple queens and will move their colonies around when disturbed.


Pharaoh ants are opportunistic, entering homes to feed on crumbs, sweet drinks, moisture, and greasy items. They also eat dead insects. Pharaoh ants may invade your pantry in a quest for sugary foods like peanut butter, but can also be found in the home in areas such as pipe chases, since they are well-sheltered there.

These pests look for entry points by seeking out torn window screens or poorly sealed doors. Keeping all possible entry points sealed and doors closed may help eliminate your likelihood of attracting pharaoh ants. However, they can be almost impossible to prevent, as the can even enter a home through small cracks in the wall or siding.


It can be difficult to get rid of pharaoh ants, as the use of pesticides can cause these pests to split off from existing colonies and begin making new ones. This process, known as budding, can actually exacerbate your existing problem instead of getting rid of it. As a result, pharaoh ant populations can grow rapidly, especially if it takes a long time for you to notice they are there in the first place.

Because these ants are so difficult to get rid of, it is recommended that you always contact a pest control professional to eliminate it once you’ve noticed signs of infestation. The best–and only–way of knowing if these pests have taken up residence in your home is to actually see them foraging about in your house.

Pest control specialists are specially trained to handle ants and similar pests. They will evaluate all possible entry points in your home, and then work with you to develop a solution to eliminate the ants that is tailored to your time, health, budget, and particular infestation.

Pharaoh Ant Facts

Pharaoh ants have a unique, odd mating habit that involves all reproduction occurring in the nest. Therefore, unlike other ant species, pharaoh ants do not swarm. This makes them even more difficult to detect and eliminate.
If you notice an infestation, make sure you get rid of any food they have touched. These ants can spread disease, including dangerous ones like dysentery and salmonellosis. Individuals working in a medical setting should be especially concerned about pharaoh ants, as they are much more likely to transmit disease than other types of ants.