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Pharaoh Ants & How to Get Rid of Them

Pharaoh ants are small, brown ants that can be seen everywhere in the United States. Pharaoh ants got their name because they were first discovered in pharaoh tombs. 

They have spread across the world and now live all over North America. 

Pharaoh ants prefer to nest near sources of food and water. If food becomes scarce pharaoh ants will move to other areas. 

If you spot a pharaoh ant infestation it is important to treat them as soon as possible, as these little pests can spread very quickly.

In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the secret of the pharaoh ants.

Pharaoh Ant facts

Scientific nameMonomorium pharaonis
Life span4-12 months
Length2mm or 0.0787 inches
DietSugary foods, small insects, and similar
Colony sizeSupercolonies: millions of members

The pharaoh ant is a very tiny ant species. Pharaoh ants look like regular small black ants, except they’re yellow or light-brownish and they will usually have a pinched thorax (the upper surface between the wing-like attachments of the middle and rear segments). 

These little pharaohs can be difficult to control as they spread fast, once they’ve infested your property.

Pharaoh ants are most active at night when they gather food and water, take care of their brood, and engage in other ant activities. They can also be spotted during the day.[1]

Scientific Classification

SpeciesM. pharaonis

Appearance: What do Pharaoh Ants Look Like?

Pharaoh ants are very small, about 2 mm in length. They have a yellow or light-brown body and two antennae (they will usually also have red and black markings on the abdomen). 

Their body is split into three segments: the head, the thorax, and the abdomen. They have six legs, just as any other ant.

pharaoh ant (1)

Diet: What Do Pharaoh Ants Eat?

Pharaoh ants are omnivores. They eat a wide variety of foods including sugars, meats, nuts, nectar from plants, and even pet food. They will also eat soft drinks when they come in contact with it. Their favorite foods are sugary foods.

When pharaoh ants aren’t able to find the proper essentials such as water or sugar for their diet, pharaoh ants turn towards other things like polyurethane foam.

ants on food

Nesting: How and Where Do They Live?

Pharaoh ants like living in warm places where the temperature is about 25 degrees Celsius (77F) or warmer. Most of their nests will be found at a place with a high humidity level; pharaoh ant colonies only need an area around 50cm² to live comfortably.

If the weather is cold, or if the ants find something in your home that they like, they won’t hesitate to infest. 

They will take advantage of the artificial heating in buildings to make it through winter.

ant hill or nest

Pharaoh ants will nest in hidden areas, where they will be protected against any dangers. 

This includes:

  • Cabinets
  • behind baseboards
  • Insulation
  • Walls
  • Other dark spaces

Pharaoh ants are one of the few ant species that tend to construct supercolonies. A supercolony is when multiple nests and colonies unite to make one enormous network of colonies. [2]

Do Pharaoh Ants Bite?

Pharaoh ants do not usually bite, but they can. Pharaoh ants will sting if they feel threatened or are trying to protect their colony. These bites are, in most cases, not harmful to humans.

do pharaoh ant bite

Pharaoh ants can carry diseases such as salmonella, staphylococcus, and clostridium. It’s, therefore, best to avoid getting bitten. [3]

If you experience an allergic reaction after an ant bite, you should seek medical attention.

Do Pharaoh Ants Spread Diseases?

Pharaoh ants have been known to transmit diseases, such as gastroenteritis and salmonellosis. They can carry many types of bacteria on their body including E. coli, staphylococcus aureus, and streptococci species.

Learn more about how ants can spread diseases here.

Do Pharaoh Ants Spread Pathogens?

According to a study [4], pharaoh ants are known for their ability to spread pathogenic microbes wherever they go, which is why they’re especially dangerous in hospitals.

Since they’re also very small, they can spread these pathogens to medical equipment very easily.

ants with liquid food

How to Get Rid of Pharaoh Ants

Pharaoh ants can be extremely annoying. They’re very small, and can therefore infiltrate almost anything, anywhere.

When it comes down to pharaoh ant control methods, there are many options available for pharaoh ant removal depending upon the severity of the infestation problem. You must find which method works best for pharaoh ants in your home.

Read more: how to get rid of ants in your home and garden.

How to Get Rid of Pharaoh Ants Naturally

To get rid of pharaoh ants naturally, there are a few things you can do:

  • First of all, keep your home as clean as possible. Pharaohs like anywhere where it is dark and moist. The number one reason for ant invasions is access to food, so make sure there are no leftovers of food crumbs available for the ants to feast on.
  • Second, figure out where they’re coming from. It’ll be much easier to get rid of ants in your home, if you know where they’re coming from. Follow the ants back to their nest. This will also let you know whether they’ve built a nest in your house, or if they’re coming from a nest located outside.
  • Third, use a natural ant repellant. Their sense of smell is incredibly good, which is why pharaohs don’t care much for strong smells. You can use essential oils (cinnamon, peppermint, or others), so keep ants out of your home. Use this near ant trails and at the entrance points. You can also use insecticides if you want to kill them.
  • Fourth, call an exterminator.  Sometimes the problem is too big for DIY methods. If that’s the case, it’s time to call an exterminator.

There are other ways to deal with ants, but the process described above could help you most of the time.

If you’re looking to kill the ants, read on. We’ll cover this later in the article.

When You Should Hire a Professional

As said, if you’ve already tried everything to get rid of pharaoh ants, but nothing works, you need to call an exterminator.

ant spray and exterminator

Sometimes our DIY methods and store-bought products won’t cut it when it comes to pest control. An exterminator will be able to use stronger remedies. They also have more knowledge about the pests than the average homeowner.

How to Kill Pharaoh Ants

Pharaoh ants are very difficult to kill off since they spread and reproduce fast.

In order to get rid of pharaoh ants, you might need a variety of products and techniques

You should try using baits, sprays, dust, and traps when trying to control pharaoh ant populations.

Best Pharaoh Ants Bait

One of the best pharaoh ants baits is pharaoh ant bait gel. 

Pharaoh ant bait gel contains hydramethylnon which works causing their stomachs to explode after ingestion. This will of course kill the ants. 

It should be noted however that this method has not been proven 100% effective and other steps might have to be taken in order to completely exterminate the pest.

Other types of insecticides that are effective against pharaoh ants include ant sprays. These liquid concentrate insecticides containing fipronil or pyrethrin. These ingredients are effective for controlling pharaoh ants, especially when used with an IGR (insect growth regulator).

How to Prevent an Infestation

Once you’ve gotten rid of the pharaoh ants in your house, it’s time to make sure they won’t come back.

There are a couple of things you should do if you want to keep them away:

  • Keep your home clean 
  • Keep food sealed away (use plastic containers)
  • Keep pet food sealed away
  • Seal any cracks or possible entrance points
  • Make sure there’s no stale water pool in your home
  • Fix water leaks

Why Pharaoh Ants Take Over Easily

Pharaoh ants have an incredibly high reproductive rate. Since pharaoh ants tend to form supercolonies, they’ll have multiple queens within the same colony. This increases reproduction.

If a supercolony of tens of thousands (or millions) of ants near you decides to invade your home, you will find that your house is overrun with these potentially harmful insects quickly.

Hence, it’s important to move fast when dealing with pharaoh ants.

ant colony disrupted

Why Pharaoh Ants Invade Your Home

Pharaoh ants will usually invade your home because of:

  • Access to food
  • Access to warmth

Ants are constantly looking for food to keep the colony growing, and our homes are filled to the brim with ants’ favorite foods: sugary food and carbohydrates.

They also like living in warmer places, where the eggs will also hatch faster. 

Both of these things can be found in a home – which is why they’ll invade.


In conclusion, pharaoh ants are a major pest that can be difficult to control. With proper identification of pharaoh ants and their infestation, you can get rid of them yourself. 

Pharaoh ants build big nests and form supercolonies. This means, a colony can have millions of members, which can make an infestation much more difficult to deal with.

Read about other types of ants here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Pharaoh Ants Hard to Get Rid Of?

Pharaoh ants are difficult to get rid of. They like living in warmer places and will infest just about any dark space they find. If there’s any moisture present as well, you’ve got yourself an ideal living space for pharaoh ants.

How to Get Rid of Pharaoh Ants Naturally

To get rid of pharaoh ants naturally, you need to clean up your house first. Then you can start using natural ants repellents or natural ant killers. One of the best methods is pouring boiling water directly into the nest. For repelling them, you can use cinnamon essential oil.

About Teodoro Pittman

Teodoro is a nature and animal lover. He specifically focuses on insects, such as ants, bees, and the like. In his free time, he takes care of his own ant farm, where he analyzes their behavior. Teodoro has spent the last 7 years studying the intricate behavior of these small creatures.

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