Pharaoh Ant

Actual Size: 1/16″ to ⅛”

Characteristics: Small; typically light yellow to red, with black markings on the abdomen. 

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Wings: No

Habitat: Nests are often located in inaccessible spots near moisture, such as kitchens, bathrooms, interior wall voids, under floors, and behind baseboards.


  • Attracted to moisture and will nest in inaccessible areas.
  • Potentially dangerous in hospitals due to their ability to transmit disease organisms.
  • Relies on artificial heating in buildings to survive with infestations commonly occurring in food service areas.

Pharoah Ants in Southern California

Known for being one of the most difficult ants to control, Pharaoh ants are found throughout southern California. An invasive species, Pharaoh ants build colonies that splinter off and form new colonies when disturbed. Due to their splintering ability, Pharoah ant infestations can spread quickly in commercial buildings, forming colonies with over 300,000 workers and multiple queens. Indoors they nest in any well-protected and hidden areas throughout a structure and prefer lawns and landscaped areas outdoors. 

Pharaoh Ant Habitat

Foraging both day and night, Pharaoh ants feed on sweets, proteins, and live or dead insects.  Pharaoh ants are drawn to commercial facilities because of the warm, humid conditions provided. Abundant food and water sources that are often found inside commercial kitchens and laundries are another attractant. In institutional facilities, nests are often located in inaccessible spots near moisture. Kitchens, laundries, boiler rooms, heating ducts, and pipes are primary locations for ant activity. Using electrical wires and plumbing pipes, Pharaoh ants can travel from room to room, spreading throughout a structure quickly. 

Pharaoh Ant Behaviors, Threats or Dangers

While primarily a nuisance in residential homes, Pharaoh ants can present a health threat in commercial businesses. Known to spread salmonella and streptococcus, food processing and healthcare facilities, hotels, and grocery stores are at risk when Pharaoh ants are present. They can carry and leave behind harmful bacteria on surfaces when they forage for food. Additionally, this species can survive most conventional pest control treatments, establishing large colonies throughout commercial properties. If a Pharaoh ant infestation is suspected, it is recommended to contact a licensed ant exterminator. 

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