Pharaoh ants are small light red insects with black markings on their abdomen. They resemble the Thief ants, but they have a lighter shade to them. Thief ants are more yellowish than reddish.
Pharaoh ants mostly feed on proteins, sweets, and fats. They also consume dead insects. To know how to get rid of pharaoh ants, you first need to understand how they live.
What Are Pharaoh Ants Colonies Like?
A colony of these ants constitutes of thousands of workers and one queen ant. When disturbed, colony members migrate to other locations to establish new colonies. Ants from one colony can form several other colonies, drastically increasing their numbers within an area. This process is known as budding.
Pharaoh Ants Reproduction
Pharaoh ants mature in about 45 days. Queens can live up to 39 weeks and during the period, lay as thousands of eggs. On the other hand, workers only live to 10 weeks.
Nests and Trails – Where Can You Find Pharaoh Ants?
Being tiny insects, pharaoh ants aren’t easy to find. They hide their nests in undisturbed locations and can travel far from the nest to look for food, by marking their trails with pheromones. Pharaoh ants are quite persistent and build large colonies.
Indoors, they prefer living in recessed areas like wall outlets, wall voids, under wooden floors, and under appliances for protection. Outside buildings, pharaoh ants are mostly found under the foundation or in shaded areas.
Other areas you can find pharaoh ants in your home:
- Bathrooms and kitchens: Workers are can easily be spotted trailing through baseboards, windowsills, electrical wires or the plumbing system.
- Around countertops, drains, toilets, sinks, and water sources.
- Close to food sources. However, their nests might not be close.
- Outdoors: Gardens and lawns, especially those with a constant supply of water.
Why Should You Get Rid of Pharaoh Ants?
When pharaoh ants nest on wooden structures, they can weaken them, causing costly damages. They’re a common cause of foam insulation damages.
They can also be a nuisance if they get into kitchen cabinets looking for food. Since they’re extremely adept at finding their way, they can make holes through your food packaging.
The risk worsens if the pharaoh ant’s nest is far from water supply since they end up traveling further.
While pharaoh ants don’t sting, they can bite – but this is not very common. Keep in mind that they bites are capable of transmitting diseases. They can also contaminate your food – especially with their diverse food preferences.
How to Prevent the Entry of Pharaoh Ants to Your House
To keep pharaoh ants away from your home:
- Seal all possible entry points around the house. This includes cracks and openings on doors and windows.
- Keep floors and counters clean and free from food crumbs.
- Store food in airtight containers.
- Regularly dispose of garbage in sealed plastic bags.
- Get rid of standing water outside your home.
- Use a dehumidifier to prevent the buildup of moisture indoors.
- Store firewood and outdoor trash cans away from your house.
- Keep shrubbery and tree branches well-trimmed.
- Get a preventive pest management plan from a professional.
Baiting Pharaoh Ants – 3 Crucial Steps
Baiting is the most effective way of getting rid of pharaoh ants. Successful baiting is achieved using the following steps:
1. Identify Areas with Ant Activity
Start by pinpointing the areas with the most pharaoh ant activity. While this might not lead you to the colony, it gives you an idea of where the pharaoh ants get their food from.
2. Clean Up Your Home
Thoroughly clean your home, removing as many food sources as you can. Get rid of food crumbs in the cabinets, counters, sinks, and floor. This will limit the pharaoh ant’s source of food.
The final step is baiting the ants.
Pharaoh ants love sweet foods such as honey, sugar, and jelly. Place these foods in areas you identified with the most ant activity. Buy an insecticide, and add it to the food. In no time, worker ants will start collecting the poisoned food and carry it to their nests.
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One of best pharaoh ant insecticides to use is the Insect Growth Regulator (IGR) that sterilizes the queens and stops the reproduction of the ants. This gradually eliminates the colony – in a few weeks, they’ll be long gone.
Other insecticides contain slow-acting poison that kills the ants. While the worker ants might feed on the bait on site, the poison takes time to work. This gives the workers enough time to carry the poisoned food to the nest.
Natural Remedies of Getting Rid Of Pharaoh Ants
Before you start the process, locate the ant nest. To do this, simply put some sweet food around popular ant spots. Then, follow their trails. The following natural solutions work well at killing ants.
1. Boric Acid
Boric acid is an active ingredient in most ant bait and pesticides.
Mix some boric acid with water and spray the solution directly to the nest. Alternatively, you could contaminate their food with the solution.
When using the boric acid keep in mind that it’s harmful when ingested. So keep it (and the poisoned food) away from children and pets.
2. Baking Soda and Sugar Bait
Take equal amounts of sugar and baking soda, and mix them. Place this mixture in areas where the ants look for food. While baking soda isn’t necessarily a poison, it reacts with the folic acid in the pharaoh ants which forms carbon dioxide that kills them. Sugar in the mixture is used as bait.
3. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is harmless to humans, pets, and the environment. When it comes into contact with an ant, it absorbs oils and fats from its exoskeleton, drying them out instantly. Since the ant doesn’t have to consume the Diatomaceous earth, it’s a more effective method.
Mix vinegar and water in equal proportions. Spray the mixture in areas of pharaoh ant activity. The vinegar will repel the ants from your home.
You can keep ants away from the house by sealing all gaps and possible points of entry using caulk. Also, repair any cracks and holes on your doors and windows.
6. Cinnamon Oil
Cinnamon oil has some insecticide properties that repel pharaoh ants. Sprinkle little amounts of cinnamon oil on the ant’s high traffic areas and around the nest to get rid of them.
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When Should You Hire a Professional Pharaoh Ants Extermination Service?
When a pharaoh ant colony disintegrates, they separate and form multiple colonies. If they form these colonies around your home, the problem will intensify. You, therefore, need to be extra careful when eliminating these ants.
While baiting might sound simple, it is a complex and often drawn-out process. A professional exterminator will take all factors into account including proper ant identification, determining the best bait, and choosing the best baiting locations.
Since pharaoh ants are often confused with other types of ants, you’ll most likely approach your infestation the wrong way. With a professional’s inspection, you can be sure that you’re working on the right pest.
Based on where you live, there could be strict pesticide regulations limiting you on measures you can take to fight the ant infestation. In addition, baiting will only be effective if you are fighting pharaoh ants in a small house. For larger infestation or commercial infestation solutions, you may need extra hands.
That said, you can effectively fight small-scale pharaoh ant infestation by your own, using the tips above. However, if the infestation is complex, it is wise to get help from a professional exterminator who has a warranty for his work.
Get Rid of Pharaoh Ants the Right Way
Successful extermination mainly relies on the use of correct treatment for pests. Ensure that you correctly identify what you’re working with. This means that you shouldn’t confuse pharaoh ants for termites, pavement ants, and thief ants.
As you make efforts to keep pharaoh ants away from your home, keep all areas in your house clean and tidy. Remember that complete elimination of the pharaoh ant’s colony can take a number of weeks. You, therefore, should be patient and keep baiting until there’s no more ant activity.
If the infestation is large, don’t hesitate to look for professional pharaoh ant exterminating services. You can get a free estimate online from licensed exterminators in your area.