Pharaoh ants are tiny yellow colored ants. They survive best in tropical environments. In colder climates they often take refuge in buildings to obtain heat. They are sometimes referred to as sugar ants because they thrive on sugary type foods.
They can now be found in almost every part of the world. This includes Australia, the Americas, Asia and Europe.
Pharaoh ants are smaller than many species of ants. Workers are usually around 1/16 of an inch. They are yellow or light brown and almost translucent in color. Their abdomens are a slightly darker color.
Similar to other ants, they have a thorax, a head, and an abdomen. Six legs are connected to the thorax. The thorax and abdomen are connected by a narrow waist called a petiole.
They have a coating around their body similar to other insects.
Their eyesight is poor so they depend mostly on their antennae and their sense of smell to guide them. The antenna ends in three long stems.
They do not have a heart or lungs. Air is taken in through small holes and carbon dioxide leaves the body through the same holes.
Unlike some ants that mate in the air, these ants mate in the nest. Queen ants usually lay from eight to twelve eggs with each batch.
Pharaoh ant nests often contain more than one queen. This makes it possible for them to easily branch off into several nests when they feel threatened.
Sexually reproductive ants are usually only produced twice a year.
In heated buildings they can breed year round.
It takes only 38 days for a pharaoh ant to develop from an egg to an adult ant. They go through the same stages as other ants, egg – larva – pupa and then adult egg.
Eggs usually hatch in around six days. The larva stage is approximately eighteen days and the pupa stage lasts twelve days. It requires four more days to produce the sexually fertile female and male ants.
Their live spans are short. Workers live as few as ten to twelve weeks and queens from four to twelve months.
Pharaoh ants often make their homes inside human structures due to their need for warmth. Any building with central heating makes an ideal home for them.Their presence is extremely problematic in hospitals because they can spread disease.
They prefer familiar nests but when disturbed, they can quickly relocate their colony to a safer place.
Pharaoh ants are polygynous which means colonies have more than one queen. Some colonies as many as two hundred.
They are not aggressive so they do not attack other colonies, instead, they work together. Some ants recognize their nest mates by the hydrocarbons on their antenna. Pharaoh ants all have the same hydrocarbons making it difficult for the ants to know which ants are nest mates and which are not. This contributes to why they work together instead of treating other colonies in an aggressive manner.
The pharaoh ant, like many other ants, communicates through the use of chemical pheromones. They use their antenna to touch other ants and smell their pheromones.
The pheromones are used for a variety of purposes. To signal other ants about danger, to make a path to a food source, and even to make work assignments. They use both a long term pheromone that lasts several days and a short term that fades within a few minutes.
Pharaoh ants are unique in their use of negative pheromones. If they find an area that is a poor food source or contains danger they will mark the area with a negative pheromone to warn other ants to stay away. This negative repellant makes pharaoh ants especially good foragers.
The pharaoh ant is able to survive in areas such as Australia where aggressive ant families such as the Iridomyrmex live. Though they are small and unaggressive their abilities in foraging for food and using negative pheromones allow them to find and utilize food sources in better ways than other types of ants.
Use of Geometry:
Though Pharaoh ants use trails to find their way to food sources, they use geometry to find their way back to the nest. Angles in their path are always from 50 to 60 degrees. When traveling back to the nest the ant always chooses the path that deviates at a less acute angle. This keeps them from getting too far off track and wasting time.
Pharaoh Ant Diet:
Pharaoh ants eat a diet of protein and carbohydrates. After eating one kind of food for several weeks they will show a preference for a different type of food. This results in a balance diet over time. It also keeps them from depleting food sources too quickly.
Every morning they send out scouts to forage for food.They begin work each day around 8:00 a.m. and continues working through the day.
Food is brought back to nest for the queen to eat. Queens also eat the secretions from the larva. The more larva the queen eats the more productive she is and more larva she then creates.
If there is a surplus of secretions a certain group of workers called the replete workers will store the secretions in their large gasters. They regurgitate the food when needed. This provides a source of emergency food if foraged food is scarce.
When food supplies are low, pharaoh ants will extend the area where they forage for food.
The Impact off Pharaoh Ants on Humans:
Pharaoh ants can quickly become a nuisance in hospitals, restaurants, apartments and houses. They can carry infections and spread diseases. Though they are small in size, they can cause large problems.
Spraying for these ants often just disperses them to other areas where they then set up new nests. It’s often best to our professional pest control companies to deal with an infestation.
Like many other ants, Pharaoh ants are often studied due to their unique ability to communicate. They can communicate in ways vastly superior to other insects and use teamwork to create intricate colonies.