Pharaoh ants are tiny - only about 1/16 inch long.
This double-node ant is light reddish-orange in color, which makes it difficult to see. The abdomen tends to have some black areas as well.
Tiny pharaoh ants become a huge problem when they inhabit structures. Colonies can become very large, with several hundred thousand workers and many queens. In response to repellent chemicals, colonies often split off into new colonies. Workers will forage for food hundreds of feet from the colony and find their way back using trails established by pheromones. Pharaoh ants have a strong desire for moisture and nests may be established in almost any void or large crevice, as well as outdoors in the soil under debris or objects.
They feed on a wide variety of foods including jellies, honey, shortening, peanut butter, corn syrup, fruit juices, baked goods, soft drinks, greases, dead insects and even shoe polish. They also gnaw holes in silk, rayon and rubber goods.
Females can lay 400 or more eggs in their lifetime. Most lay 10 to 12 eggs per batch and eggs hatch in five to seven days. The entire life cycle takes about 45 days. Unlike most ants, pharaoh ants breed continuously throughout the year in heated buildings. A single queen can produce many hundreds of workers in just a few months.
Pharaoh ants mechanically transmit disease and contaminate sterile materials. Mature colonies can contain 300,000 or more members.
Control of Pharaoh ants relies heavily on baiting. The dietary needs of the colony vary, and workers may be seeking only one kind of food, so the use of a variety of bait products will enhance the effectiveness.