Pharaoh Ant Treatments – What Should You Do?
Read Time: 4 minutes
Over the last few years, Pharaoh ants have become a big problem in Ontario. You may be wondering; what the heck is a Pharaoh ant? I don’t live in ancient Egypt, so who cares.
Well, let me explain what they look like and why they are important.
Pharaoh ants are very tiny (I mean minuscule, 1.5cm – 2.0cm) and are golden in colour. In most cases, you will find them in your kitchen, near windows, and in the bathroom.
They are very sensitive to environmental changes like temperature, chemicals, and major vibrations like construction. The more you make them mad, the more they fracture or bud the colony. Meaning, that they keep popping up everywhere and the population keeps growing.
If you are interested in learning more about all the science-based numbers and boring facts, read my previous blog about Pharaoh Ants. Just remember, if you use an ant spray – it will kill ants but they just get mad and make more colonies. More ant colonies = more headaches for you!
Vomit, Viruses, and Bacteria – Yummy!
Worker ants are a nuisance as they forage widely for food and water, they will feed on pretty much anything. They will feed on meat, cheese, fats, sugar, honey, jam, chocolate, etc. In hospitals, they will also feed on blood, the fluid associated with wounds, and vomit. Pretty gross right?!
Dead insects, mice, and mouse droppings can also provide tasty food for the workers. Pharaoh ants can be found walking on packaging, counters and can even penetrate plastic bags containing sterile dressings and instruments.
Pharaoh ants pose a serious risk to our health. Viruses, bacteria, and a host of other nasty things can be spread by these cute (not so cute) baby ants. They feed in unhygienic places including drains, garbage bins, wounds, dressings, etc. Their ability to infest sterile supplies in hospitals is of particular concern.
When I first started in Pest Control many years ago we were dealing with Pharaoh ants in the burn unit of a major Toronto Hospital. The ants were eating the skin and fluids of the poor people trying to get better. Infections were being spread by these little buggers. Because this was such a sensitive scenario, I devised a proper protocol to eliminate the population in a safe manner for all involved.
Today at GreenLeaf, we receive a lot of Pharaoh ant service calls for multiple dwelling units like apartment buildings, condo units, College and University dorms. More recently, we’ve been getting a lot of phone calls with pharaoh ants in residential homes. If you find yourself in this scenario, be sure to partner with a trained and licensed pest control company like GreenLeaf Pest Control.
Basic Pharaoh Ant Control – What to do
If you are reading this blog, thank you. I truly hope this information will be helpful to you and encourage you to share and follow our content. You’re also likely experiencing a Pharaoh ant issue and want some practical expert advice. Well, here it is…
Most literature speaks about how difficult these ants are to eliminate. Having said that, there are several simple steps you can take to help identify where the ants are hiding and where to place liquid bait. Remember, spraying is not your friend; the more you spray, the more you stress out the ants and the more likely they are to break apart. The more they break apart or bud new ant queens the more widely distributed they become and the more difficult they become to control. If you spray, you might as well start to pray!
Keep in mind these ants are a subtropical species which means they like areas of warmth and moisture. Traditionally in a home, these little microclimates are our bathrooms, kitchens, and furnace rooms.
It’s All About the Bait
Protein and carbohydrates are staples in the Pharaoh ant diets. At GreenLeaf we always start every treatment with an advanced pre-baiting detection protocol. We actually place cards with both proteins and carbohydrates to determine their preferred food source. They basically look like little feeding stations.
In most cases, we use raw unpasteurized honey or some sort of fat on the card. These cards are placed throughout the suspected area to determine where the ants are and where they are going. This is truly a critical step because many times they travel vertically into electrical outlets, wall voids, or behind cabinets where the colony is located. Once again, spraying is not your friend.
These feeding cards will attract ants and as they make their way back to the colonies they live in, you will be able to focus your treatment strategy. Once you have adoption, you can now swap the cards out with your “real” bait stations and start the elimination.
At GreenLeaf we either make some of our own baits at a very low concentration (1% active ingredient or less) or we have commercially available baits. As a homeowner, you can still go to your local hardware store and buy some good products to help control the population. If your ants are eating the honey – buy a sweet/carb bait. If they eat the fat or peanut butter, buy a protein-based bait.
Sanitation is very crucial. We highly recommend keeping things clean and dry. This means drying your sink at night, not leaving cups out, and even towel drying your tub and shower can really help. If you are having trouble keeping humidity levels low, use fans and a dehumidifier to help dry damp areas.
Be patient, don’t spray, and keep things dry.
If you tried your own baits at home and found success, please feel free to share your observations and findings in the comment section below! Or, if you need help, advice, or just want to call and talk creepy crawly bugs. The professionals at GreenLeaf are at your service.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Daniel Mackie aka Mr. Know Bugs is the VP – Quality Assurance at Greenleaf Pest Control. With over 24 years in the pest protection industry, Mackie is a Toronto, Oakville, Barrie, and Newmarket pest control expert. Daniel Mackie is well-known as an industry go-to guy, an innovator of safe, effective pest control solutions, and is a regular guest on HGTV. In his free time, he is an avid gardener and beekeeper. According to Mackie: “We are Protectors of Public Health”