Pharaoh Ants: Facts, Dangers + How to Kill Them

Pharaoh ants are tiny ants that are common in the house because they love warmth and moisture. They are 2millimeters long when fully grown. They are yellowish and in some cases, their bodies may have some black and red marks on their abdomen.

Pharaoh ants are tiny bright yellow or brown indoor ants that are 1-2mm long. They rarely bite but are dangerous because they spread bacterial infections. To get rid of pharaoh ants, mix 1 tablespoon of pure boric acid powder with 1 tables spoon of fine sugar and let them eat the mixture.  

Pharaoh ants develop from eggs to adults within 38 days. The female ants live between 4 and 12 months. The worker ants only live for up to 10 weeks. The male ants always die after three to five weeks of mating.

Pharaoh Ants Facts, Dangers + How to Kill Them

Where do pharaoh ants live?

They will mostly infest places that have food. They can build their nests indoors or outdoors. Their nests are made in hidden and well-protected areas whether indoors or outdoors. They mostly love sweet foods but can eat any type of food.

This could be in refrigerator insulation, on walls, behind clothes folds among others. An infestation of the ants is mostly noticed when the worker ants start foraging for food along surfaces.

These are present in many parts of the world. They are also considered pests as they have the ability to survive indoors. In case they infest a hospital, the ants can spread diseases as well as contaminate medical equipment.

The pharaoh ants have a number of queens within each colony. The colonies will move from one place to another when they are threatened. New colonies are started through budding.

This is a process in which a small group of worker ants migrates with a single queen pharaoh ant to start a colony of their own. When there are toxic substances spread around the ants, they tend to spread all over thus compounding the problem.

Pharaoh ant facts

The pharaoh ants are a species that is spread all around the world. Also known as the sugar ant, it is a common household ant. It is also one of the most difficult to control.

They are light yellow in color with some red and black marks on the abdomen. The insects are omnivorous feeding on all types of foods but with a preference for sweet things. They also consume insects.

Each colony will be made up of queen ants, worker ants, and reproductive ants. The size of each category varies in length and the color could also be slightly different. Their bodies are divided into three parts and they all have antennas.

Various facts about pharaoh ants give them their distinguishing characteristics. Some of these are:

  1. They live in colonies consisting of worker ants, reproductive ants, and the queen ants
  2. The reproductive males are winged and normally die soon after mating
  3. They mate inside the nest and can do it all year round.
  4. Pharaoh ants can bite
  5. They are one of the most common indoor ants

Are pharaoh ants dangerous?

Pharaoh ants are dangerous because they are known to cause bacterial infections and that makes them deadly to humans. They can also transmit bacterial infections by contaminating anything that they crawl on. They also contaminate open wounds and food.

This is because they they walk everywhere from the toilet to the kitchen and the sewers. They will crawl on anything that they come across and this makes them dangerous. It is not okay to eat food or fruits that are infested by pharaoh ants.

Among the bacteria that pharaoh ants can transmit include the Clostridium bacteria that is known for causing diarrhea.

This is why a serious infestation should be controlled as soon as possible especially if you like eating fast food at home. This is also one of the common ants in bed and bedrooms because it loves warm areas.

Can pharaoh ants bite humans? Yes, pharaoh ants can bite if they sense danger and feel threatened. In most cases, their bites are not really harmful unless they are in a large group.

How to get rid of pharaoh ants 

If left uncontrolled, pharaoh ants can be a nuisance especially when they invade a place. One has to know what the best ways on how to get rid of pharaoh ants are so as to ensure they do not worsen the problem in their efforts.

When conducting pharaoh ant control, it is important to avoid the use of ant repellent insecticides. This kind of products tends to cause scattering of a colony. When this happens, one ends up having to deal with more than one colony thus making the work difficult.

It is therefore advisable that one desists from spreading toxic substances in the colony. However, you can use home made baits like cornstarch bait for killing ants because it is one of the most efficient ways of getting rid of an entire colony.


To kill pharaoh ants successfully, make use of ant bait to get rid of existing infestations. Slow acting baits are the best as they can help to eliminate a whole colony.

This is made possible by the fact that the worker ants will carry the bait to the nest where the queen and her young ones are fed as well. This way, the whole colony gets poisoned and are all gone with time.

Where all else fails, it is best to call in professional ant controllers. This is most important where one owns a food establishment or health care institution.

These are places in which the ants could cause contamination. When picking one, interview them, check out their reviews and ask for referrals. This will ensure you pick personnel with the best services and at affordable prices.

Best pharaoh ant bait: sugar + baking soda+ borax

Both baking soda and borax are highly toxic to ants and this is one of the best bats that can get rid of the whole pharaoh ant colony with time. Here is how to make a pharaoh ant bait at home:

  1. Put 1/2 teas spoon of baking soda in a container
  2. Add 1/2 teaspoon of borax
  3. The finally, add 1 tablespoon of sugar and mix them to blend completely well
  4. Place the mixture near their hide outs and in their favorite places and let them feast

Prevention measures

For people who are looking for environmental-friendly pharaoh ant solutions, there also are ways on how to go about this. These help in discouraging the ants from being around your home and thus keeping them in control.

  1. Keep all sugary foods in sealable containers. If possible refrigerate them.
  2. To prevent them from getting attracted by pet food, place the food bowls in a tray of water. This will cut off their access point.
  3. Keep every area thoroughly cleaned to deter the ants from infesting an area. Apply vinegar and water solution on the floors to destroy the ants’ trail.
  4. For long term control, ensure the house and its surrounding is clean and free of moisture. This way the ants will have nothing attracting them to the surroundings


Control of the ants is hard because their nests are mostly in inaccessible areas but with the right procedures it is possible. The measure taken should therefore be thorough and should include the nesting areas and the foraging areas as well. Some procedures to help in getting rid of them include:

Identification: First find out which are the areas with high ant activity. This will likely lead to where the insects are nesting. The insects prefer areas with moisture.

Keep clean: The area with most activity is likely to have some attractant. If it is in the kitchen, clean up. Keep food covered and clear spillages as soon as they happen. Get rid of all food crumbs as well. Where it is outdoors, clear the bushes.

These will help keep the ants away as they will not have anything attracting them. When this is done, it keeps the ants off and in case one decides to bait them, the attractant is the only food they get.

Perimeter check: This will help prevent the ants from entering a home. Treating the floor voids, wall outlets, and ceilings can also help to avoid pharao and argentine ants among others.

What is the best way to get rid of pharaoh ants?

Successful pharaoh ant elimination is only possible through an extensive ant baiting process. This is because only a small population of the ants leave the nest to go out foraging. The rest are left in the nest.

The baits have to be placed in the areas that have been recognized to contain high ant activity. These are areas they are likely to be foraging. When this is done, the worker ants come into contact with it. Depending on the number of members within the colonies, more than one bait may be necessary.

How fast and effective baiting is in the extermination of the ants will depend on the severity of the infestation. At times, one may be required to continue with the baiting program even after the ants seem to have been eliminated to avoid fresh infestations.


The treatment of pharaoh ants involves the identification and elimination of the ants. To do this successfully, one ought to know how to kill pharaoh ants in their whole population. The process of pharaoh ants’ extermination is a long one and could take a number of months depending on the level of infestation.

It is not advisable to make use of repellent insecticides as a means of killing the ants. When this is done, they tend to split up, form new colonies and relocate.

This will compound the problem. To keep off pharaoh ants from your property, make use of ant baits. This is the most preferred method of extermination. It involves making use of an attractant to drive the ants towards the bait.

In most cases, the bait makes use of syrup, jelly, or honey to attract the ants. They are then drawn into slow-acting bait which they will feed on, take back to the nest, and give to the queen and her young ones.

This way, it is not only the worker ants that die but all members of the colony. With time, members living within the nest are wiped out.

When baiting outdoors, it is best to place the bait along the edges as this is where the ants’ trail. This way the possibility of the ants finding the bait is increased.

Although most baits are non-toxic, always follow manufacturer advice when using them. Always keep them away from pets and children to avoid adverse interactions.


  1. Scientific American: Household solutions for ants by science buddies
  2. UF|IFAS: Pharaoh ant biology & nesting habits: University of Florida