Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Ants - Pharaoh Ant
Pharaoh ants are light yellowish to reddish brown in color, with workers measuring 1/15 to 1/12-inch long. They are found in localized regions throughout most of the United States and parts of southern Canada. They have become the most common pest in many areas. Pharaoh ants can be easily distinguished from thief ants by the presence of three segments in the antenna club. They are an important ant pest in the homes, hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities. Their small sizes enables them to get into most anything, and their very wide food preferences combine to make pharaoh ants difficult to eliminate from structures in many cases.
Nests are rarely found but occur between walls, under floors, above ceilings, behind baseboards and switch plates, in old trash, in folded bathroom linens, or outside in gardens along walks. Pharaoh ants nest on porous substrates in warm places near furnaces, heating ducts, and hot water pipes that are also near moist conditions or open water sources. Ants range widely from their nests, usually over established trails marked by pheromones. Workers are frequently seen trailing along windowsills, counter tops and baseboards. In the warmer climates of the southern United States pharaoh ants are frequently found foraging and nesting outside of buildings or adjacent landscaping.
Pharaoh ants will feed on such a diverse array of materials that use of the term food preferences seems inappropriate. However, substances like syrups, fruit juices, honey, jelly, cakes, pies, greases, dead insects, or meats and blood are frequent fed on. In hospitals, they will often feed on blood or other bodily fluids, medical waste, or intravenous feeding fluids.
Even though several very effective bait formulations are available for pharaoh ant control, this ant can be very persistent and difficult to control. It has a tendency to appear suddenly in various places within a structure. Attempts to control this species with spray or dust applications, or the occurrence of other forms of stress on the colony or colonies, will frequently cause the colonies to split into sub-colonies that scatter to other locations with the structure. This behavioral process is called budding and is commonly observed in this species.