How to Get Rid of Pharaoh Ants: A Complete Guide

Most homeowners in the southern United States have had an unfortunate run-in with Pharaoh ants. Seemingly overnight, an entire Pharaoh ant colony will sneak its way into your home and begin invading. Once they make themselves at home the process of getting rid of them can become really hard.

How to get rid of Pharaoh ants? The best way to get rid of Pharaoh ants is with the use of ant baits. The bait needs to be slow-acting so that the foragers live long enough to carry it back to the main colony. It should also consist of something Pharaoh ants like to eat such as sugar, fat, insects, nectar, honeydew, etc.

If you really want to get rid of the Pharaoh ants, you have to approach the infestation from both an extermination and prevention perspective. So, let’s talk about what Pharaoh ants are and what you can do to eliminate them and keep them from re-entering your home.

What are Pharaoh Ants?

Pharaoh ants (Monomorium pharaonis) are tiny light brown ants that are most common in the southern United States, though they can be found just about anywhere in the world. They seem to prefer warmer environments and love to invade homes when it’s time to build their colonies. Once a few Pharaoh ants make their way into your home, you might be looking at a colony of hundreds.

Unfortunately, getting rid of them is even more difficult than getting rid of other types of ants. That’s because they tend to “split” their colonies, so there’s no single nest that you can exterminate. They might make themselves at home behind your appliances, beneath your floors, or in your walls.


Where Do Pharaoh Ants Come From?

Pharaoh ants have a really interesting name and many people believe that they were one of the 10 Egypt plagues from the bible and therefore they were named Pharaon ants. But lucky for us, this is a myth and they were not the part of the Egyptian plagues. Still, their place of origin is Africa but now they can also be found across the United States.


What Do Pharaoh Ants Eat?

The major problem with Pharaoh ants is just how easy it is for them to enter your home. Once they realize that your home is warm and a good source of food (sugar and fat-based products, crumbs, trash, etc.), they will sneak their way in and begin infesting every corner of your house.

Related: What Do Ants Eat? | Ant Feeding Habits


What Do Pharaoh Ants Look Like?

What Do Pharaoh Ants Look LikeWhat Do Pharaoh Ants Look Like

Pharaoh ants are considered to be small when compared to other ant species as they are only 2 mm long (0.078 inches). They are light yellow to brown in color and have a black stinger that is not functional. Pharaoh ants are sometimes confused by people for Thief ants.


• Pharaoh Ant Queen

The Pharaoh ant queen is almost double in size when compared to their worker ants or more exactly 4 to 5 mm (0.157 to 0.2 inches). They are different in color as Pharaoh ant queens are red to dark red in color. Also, they have wings that are not functional and they lose them soon after the mating process is done.

Related: Ant Size Chart and Comparison: Information and Facts


Do Pharaoh Ants Bite?

Pharaoh ants do bite but their bites are not painful. The pain level can be compared to the flea bite. Still, after the bite, a red welt will appear and last for a few hours. Pharaoh ants bite by using their mouth and mandibles to pinch the skin. Luckily their stingers are not functional because usually, ants that sting can cause extreme pain.

Related: Ant Bites: Identification, Treatment, Allergic Reactions & More


Are Pharaoh Ants Dangerous?

Pharaoh ants are not dangerous for their bites but because of their ability to spread different diseases and infections when they traverse through garbage. They are a problem in hospitals because they can jeopardize the lives of the patients.


How to Get Rid of Pharaoh Ants: Instructions

There are two primary methods you can use for pharaoh ant treatment: baiting and spraying. We’ll discuss both in greater detail below.


Method #1: Pharaoh Ant Bait

The baiting of Pharaoh ants tends to be quite effective for destroying their nests. There are two reasons for this:


  • Pharaoh ants are attracted to the bait, which contains chemicals that’ll kill them within a few hours. 

  • When the Pharaoh ants bring the bait back to the nest, the queen can consume it and also die. This will result in the death of the entire colony.

You’ll want to place your ant bait traps in areas where the Pharaoh ants tend to look for food. You should also be keeping a close eye on your bait, replacing it every few days when supplies seem to be running low.


Choosing the Right Bait

If you want to get rid of your ant problem with the first attempt, it’s essential that you choose the right type of bait. Not only do you need to make sure that the Pharaoh ants are attracted to it, but you also need to make sure that they don’t die before they can carry the bait back to their nest. Here are a few tips to help you choose the right type of Pharaoh ant bait:


  • Use a bait that works slowly If your bait is too powerful, it will only kill the foraging Pharaoh ants, leaving the main colony untouched. The queen will simply make more ants and replace the lost foragers, and you won’t see any difference in your ant problem.
  • Make sure the bait is something the Pharaoh ants will eat – The best baits will incorporate what the ants typically eat in nature. This can include plants, other insects, honeydew, and nectar.
  • Try a few different types of bait – By mixing it up with baits that offer different food sources, you’re guaranteed that the Pharaoh ants will be attracted to at least one.

Best Ant Killer Baits for Pharaoh Ants


Terro Ant Bait Pharaoh Ants

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Does Borax Kill Pharaoh Ants? | Homemade Pharaoh Ant Bait

Borax does kill Pharaoh ants and it is possible to make homemade ant baits with it. Homemade ant baits are very easy to make, simply mix borax with liquid sugar and place it where the Pharaoh ants are foraging. Borax is not deadly to humans but for ants, it crates serious digestive problems that result in their death.


Method #2: Spray Pesticides

The major trouble with Pharaoh ants is that they split their colonies and can build separate nests inside your home. Once they sense that you’ve sprayed chemicals, you might just be encouraging them to move to another area of your home.

That means spraying pesticides is best left to professional exterminators. A skilled exterminator will spray the whole perimeter of your home to keep any additional Pharaoh ants away and also some might try to get to the heart of the nest. But keep in mind that spraying isn’t typically the most effective method of getting rid of Pharaoh ants.

This should be your last-ditch effort if the Pharaoh ant problem in your home doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, but it might be the only option if the infestation is bad enough. If you want to use an ant spray try Hot Shot Ant Killer Plus Aerosol, it will eradicate the Pharaoh ants in front of you.

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How to Prevent a Pharaoh Ant Infestation

Once you’ve gotten rid of your Pharaoh ant problem, you’ll need to take steps to make sure they don’t come back. We’re going to discuss three of the most effective prevention methods below. 


Method #1: Keep Your Home & Yard Spotless

To keep Pharaoh ants away from your home, you need to keep your home spotless as much as possible. That means getting rid of their possible food sources and any place they can hide in your house.

The first thing you need to know is that Pharaoh ants love sweets and fatty foods. All it takes is a few hours of having something sweet left uncovered, and you might have Pharaoh ants invading your kitchen or garage. Even the smallest crumbs will attract Pharaoh ants to your home.

That means it’s more important than ever to clean-up after yourself when you’re done eating or preparing food. Focus on cleaning the kitchen, sweeping and vacuuming the floors, and wiping down countertops and surfaces. Don’t leave dirty dishes on the countertop either.

When it comes to your yard, you need to be aware of where Pharaoh ants tend to build nests. This is usually in dark and hidden locations, such as piles of firewood, mulch, or even dirt. To keep Pharaoh ants from entering your home, keep any piles of material and debris a good distance away from your house.

You should also pay special attention to shrubbery and trees that grow close to your home. If these plants touch your home in some way, this might be how the Pharaoh ants are getting inside in the first place. Be sure to trim branches and bushes that are growing close to your home.


Method #2: Invest in a Dehumidifier

Pharaoh ants actually prefer hot and humid environments, which is why they seem to thrive in tropical regions and the southern United States. Humid climates are usually where Pharaoh ants build their nests and begin reproducing. That means your home might be the perfect nesting ground if your indoor humidity level is way too high.

Since you can’t change the environment around you, you’ll have to change the climate inside your home. You can do that by investing in a solid dehumidifier.

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This is the perfect way to keep the moisture levels in your home low and make your home less desirable to this specific species of ant.

In an extra effort to get rid of moisture in your home, take the time to check out the pipes and faucets in your house. Check for leaking pipes and be sure to seal them up, so the Pharaoh ants don’t have a moist area to call home.


Method #3: Seal Up Your House

Pharaoh ants invade your home not just because your home is warm and a source of food, but because they can. If you take the time to seal up every crease and crack in your home, you can be sure that Pharaoh ants will never enter.

That means you’ll have to inspect nearly every inch of your home to see where they might be coming in. Here are some places to look for and also advice on how you can seal them:


  • Closed windows and doors: Make sure there are no cracks that Pharaoh ants can sneak through and seal up any cracks with window/door caulk.
  • Opened windows and doors: As much as you like fresh air entering your home, this is the easiest way for Pharaoh ants to break through, so keep your windows and doors shut whenever possible.
  • Foundation: Cracks in your home’s foundation are a sneaky way for Pharaoh ants to enter your home, so seal up any cracks with the help of cement or caulk.

There’s only so much that you can do when it comes to sealing every single crack in your home’s structure. There’s no way you can block every single possible entry. So, keeping Pharaoh ants away in the first place by making your home unattractive to them is the best option here.


Summary

There’s no doubt that Pharaoh ants are a nuisance in just about every state in the United States. But, that doesn’t mean that you have to simply tolerate these pests when they invade your home. There are quite a few things you can do to keep them out and we have given you detailed instructions for each of them. For more content on pest control keep following our site!


List of Sources

Pharaoh ant – Monomorium pharaonis (Linnaeus), University of Florida

Pharaoh ant – Monomorium pharaonis, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California

Kim, C. W., Kim, D. I., Choi, S. Y., Park, J. W., & Hong, C. S. (2005), Pharaoh ant (Monomorium pharaonis): newly identified important inhalant allergens in bronchial asthma, Journal of Korean medical science

Pharaoh Ant, Monomorium pharaonis, Texas A&M University

Pharaoh Ant, Utah State University

Klunker R., Scheurer S., Neumann T., Control of the Pharaoh’s ant with borax bait formulations