Pharaoh Ants Establish Nests Within Homes, And They Spread Disease-Causing Microorganisms Wherever They Go
More than 700 ant species have been documented in the United States, but only a small minority are considered pests within homes and yards. Much like other eusocial insect groups, many ant species have established permanent habitats outside of their native range. Some ant species have even managed to thrive in a variety of environmental conditions on nearly every continent, with the exception of Antarctica, of course. The relatively small group of ant species that have spread to virtually every urban region of the world are known as “tramp ants.” This name comes from their habit of hitchhiking to new areas all over the world via cargo shipments, much like a tramp or vagrant.
Tramp ant species tend to be nuisance pests around homes due to their ability to tolerate a wide variety of environmental conditions. Tramp ants are also well adapted to surviving long periods within human habitats, as all tramp ants have endured long journeys across the world on cargo ships and other human forms of transportation. Naturally, several tramp ant species can be found throughout the US, and some of the most commonly encountered tramp ants in Arizona include Argentine ants, crazy ants, odorous house ants, and Pharaoh ants. Monomorium pharaonis, or “Pharaoh ants” as they are commonly known, are notorious for establishing stubborn indoor infestations where the ants pose a health threat due to the disease-causing microorganisms that the ants carry.
Pharaoh ants are one of the smallest sized ant pest species, as they usually do not grow any larger than 1/16 of an inch in length, but the tiny ants can still be recognized within homes for their strikingly yellow exterior. Pharaoh ants prefer to nest within obscure indoor locations that are difficult to access, such as within wall voids, beneath baseboards or within attic spaces. Since Pharaoh ant colonies can contain more than 30,000 individual ants, infestations can be hard to eradicate. Workers often forage around homes where they will consume just about any human food source that they encounter, such as meats, sweets, and fats. These ants also require copious amounts of water, and they can harvest water from any source, including from the wounds of debilitated and/or immobile people.
Pharaoh ants also nest outdoors, often beneath leaf-litter and stones, and while these ants do not damage lawns, their population can reach nuisance levels in residential yards where they frequently congregate within homes in order to secure easy human food sources. Considering the disease risk that these ants pose to the occupants of an infested home, a pest control professional should be contacted when Pharaoh ants are found indoors.
Have you ever spotted Pharaoh ants within your house?