What do they look like?
They are small reddish/brown tropical insects typically 2mm long. Pharaoh ants were first recorded in Britain in the early nineteenth century. They live in groups and different types of ants are responsible for certain duties within the colony. The worker ants (sterile females) have responsibility for building and extending the nest, looking after the larvae and foraging. It is when they look for food that they are a nuisance. The queens (fertile females) usually remain in the nest.
Where and how do they live?
Pharaoh ants are commonly found indoors. They need warm temperatures to breed and are thus usually associated with warm, centrally heated buildings. They are increasingly found in domestic properties.
Why are they a problem?
Pharaoh ants can carry germs from dirty places to clean food and for this reason are of major public health significance. The fact that they are difficult to control also poses problems worker ants are able to start new nests if the original one becomes too small. A building may thus be infested with Pharaoh ants that will not necessarily be located at one nest site. Additionally, the ants are spread quite easily from building to building in moveable items such as clothing and bedding.
How do they breed?
Pharaoh ants' nests are centred around a queen. She lays a considerable number of eggs over a period of two years. During the development of the nest many more queens may be produced, and at times males may also appear. Unlike the garden ant, the queen Pharaoh ant will be replaced by the workers when she gets older and incapable of maintaining the normal egg-laying rate. In two to four weeks the eggs hatch into tiny larvae (or grubs), which are fed by the sterile female workers. In a couple of weeks the larvae change into pupae a resting phase. This resting stage lasts from two to four weeks before the young ants emerge.
What can you do to prevent Pharaoh ants in your home?
The sterile female ants become a nuisance when they search for food in our homes. They are able to communicate information regarding the location of suitable food sites to other workers, and it is common to see long narrow trails of worker ants moving to and from the food source. It is also common for the ants to search out water for drinking, and this often brings them into contact with drains. Ensuring food is stored in pest proof containers and keeping work surfaces clean will help to discourage Pharaoh ants.
How can I get rid of Pharaoh ants?
Pharaoh ants are extremely difficult to get rid of and you need professional help if you have an infestation. Pest control treatments are available to residents in Ealing Council properties. Where more than two properties in a block are infested with Pharaoh ants it is our policy to recommend that the whole block is treated.
When a pesticide is used to treat an infestation in your home we will leave you written information about the chemical, including what to do in an emergency.
All pesticides are applied by our qualified and experienced staff to ensure the safety of the public and to minimise damage to the environment.