Pharaoh ants will build nests in a wide variety of areas—basically, anywhere that provides adequate shelter. This includes lawns, gardens, and potted plants around homes and rain gutters. However, they often move indoors through torn window screens, cracks in the seals around entryways or outdoor siding, or a number of other small openings.
Once inside a building, these ants prefer kitchens and bathrooms where there’s warmth, food and water. They’ll also nest in attics or other storage areas. Pharaoh ants can move around the house on plumbing or wiring within the walls, nesting among storage items such as books, sheets and clothes. It’s difficult to find their nests, even if you spot them returning from a food source and follow them to the access point.
Some common areas to check for ant nests are cabinets, furniture, roofing shingles and sprinkler systems. Interestingly, if a person or substance touches a pharaoh ant nest, the ants will abandon that area, split up and build multiple new nests, complicating an infestation.
Pharaoh ants feed on sweet foods, grease and dead insects. They’re attracted by crumbs and foods left out in the kitchen as well as grease spots and the moisture in humid areas of the house. Popular pharaoh ant foods include syrups, honey, peanut butter and jelly.
While the lifespan of a pharaoh worker ant is only about ten weeks, a queen ant can live for up to a year and lay as many as four hundred eggs. A mature colony can have several queens who, living in a heated building, can reproduce throughout the year. Colonies sometimes contain hundreds of thousands or even millions of ants but often split apart into multiple, smaller colonies in a process called budding.
Pharaoh ants communicate by releasing pheromones from their bodies. With these chemicals, they can signal that there is food or danger nearby and send many other messages to the colony.
The surest sign of an infestation is seeing these ants in a trail across the floor or counter, searching for food. If you continuously notice these tiny, amber-colored ants around your home, it’s likely that they’ve nested somewhere inside.
Pharaoh ants are attracted to buildings by the three basic requirements for life: food, water and shelter. These ants require a warm environment to live, so they’ll be more inclined to move indoors in cooler climates and during the winter season. This is why they concentrate in warmer areas of the home, like attics, insulation and bathrooms.
Since pharaoh ants have quite an adaptive diet, they can survive on many types of food: crumbs, grease, other insects, fats, proteins and sugars. Pests already present in your home can thus attract pharaoh ants. To remain close to moisture, these ants have been known to nest inside hollow shower rods and within wall voids near the plumbing.
Their diet can lead to infested food products in cabinets or the pantry. However, they can also damage clothing and items made of fabrics, such as silk. Unfortunately, pharaoh ants frequently carry diseases, making their nesting locations unsanitary.
Pharaoh ants are one of the most tricky and resilient pests that infest homes in the U.S. Because of their budding behavior, store-bought spray can make an infestation worse by scattering the ants and creating separate colonies in multiple locations. It’s important to call an Aptive professional to control these ants in your home or business.
However, you can reduce the risk of a pharaoh ant infestation with these tips:
Keep landscaping materials, such as wood, stones and bricks, away from your home.
Make sure that your gutters direct water away from the walls and fix any leaking pipes.
Don’t lay mulch more than two inches deep.
Seal cracks in floors, walls, window frames and screens.
Trim tree branches and other plants away from the walls of your house.
Call Aptive to begin an ongoing pest control plan, tailored to your property.
Don’t take on a pharaoh ant infestation without professional help. Baits are the preferred method of over-the-counter treatment because there’s a higher chance that the foragers will take the bait back to the nest. Still, it’s difficult to ensure that it reaches the entire nest and it’s likely that the colony will simply split up and relocate, making the infestation worse. This also makes future treatments even more difficult. Instead of worrying about pest management, count on Aptive professionals to control ants thoroughly and effectively.