How to treat an infestation
of pharaoh ants?
The pharaoh ant is now widespread in Quebec. Like other parasites, it is disturbing. Its colonies invade our buildings in search of food.
They are difficult to eliminate because of their large colony. Moreover, as soon as she feels threatened, they move very quickly and find new refuge always in our buildings.
How do I get rid of it? Through a professional exterminator! But how to differentiate the professional from the amateur? What does the insect itself look like? What is its life cycle? How can we prevent it from invading us? How to fight his invasion?
Here are professional answers to all these questions.
|Nom français||Fourmi pharaon|
|Nom anglais||Pharaoh ant|
|Nom latin||Monomorium pharaonis|
Physical appearance of the pharaoh ant
The pharaoh ant is an insect of the family of formicids. It is distinguished from other ants by its small size:
- The workers are sterile females, without wings, and are 1.5 to 2.5 mm long. They have a sting lodged inside the end of the abdomen. They rarely take it out; which makes it difficult to see.
- Queens, on the other hand, are winged females. They measure 3.5 to 5 mm in length. Their abdomen ends with an ovipositeur, their egg-laying organ.
- Males, larger than workers, are about 2.8 mm tall and are also winged.
The head of the pharaoh ant is voluminous. His compound eyes are well developed. Its mouth parts are shredder-like. Its two mandibles each have four teeth. Its antennae are bent and very mobile. They consist of 12 articles and end with a club of three articles.
Its body is divided into 2 segments between the abdomen and the chest. The said thorax has a uniform roundness; there are 2 small bumps on its petiole (the small part that gives it a thin waist) made of two segments.
All pharaoh ants are pale yellow in colour at the head and chest but pale brown at the back of the abdomen that appears translucent. Queens are darker in colour than workers; their abdomen may be reddish brown.
Lifecycle of the colony
Pharaoh ants live in colonies, a colony of up to 500,000 individuals and several queens. Colonies of pharaoh ants have only one form of workers. For example, there are no soldiers.
The mating between a male and a queen takes place in the nest. There is no bridal flight.
The queens’ abdomen contains a sperm library to keep sperm alive. Thanks to this sperm library, queens can lay eggs for the rest of their lives without any new contact with a male.
After mating, the queen loses her wings and builds a nest to lay eggs. Egg-laying can be done at any time of the year. Egg incubation lasts seven and a half days. The queen, throughout her life, is able to lay 350 to 400 eggs.
Turning eggs into larvae
Eggs emerge from blind, segmented, legless larvae. These larvae will be fed by the workers. The larval stage lasts 18.5 days.
The transformation of larvae into nymphs
Larvae turn into pre nymphs before becoming nymphs. These stadiums last 3 and 9 days respectively.
The mutation of nymphs into adult ants
At a temperature of 27oC, the nymphs become adults on the 38th day. Queens and males need an additional four days to develop.
Workers and queens were born from fertilized eggs. The male was born from an unfertilized egg.
Workers take care of eggs, larvae, nymphs and queens. They come out of the nest to look for food for the queens. They have a lifespan of about 70 days.
Queens will lay eggs for the rest of their lives, which is 200 days. Males die a few days after mating.
Pharaoh ants can’t stand winter. In times of freshness, they find a warm and humid place to survive.
Pharaoh ants can be found everywhere: in grocery stores, restaurants, food processing plants, houses, hospitals, hotels, etc.
Is the intrusion of pharaoh ants harmful to us?
They infest hot and humid places and install their nests: bathroom, kitchen, near heaters, near pipes, sinks, drains, etc. But they are also found in any sheltered place: behind the baseboards, behind or inside furniture, in closets or drawers, in our pantry, in unsealed cans, etc.
Pharaoh ants attack our sweet foods: fruit juices, condensed milk, cakes, cookies and chocolates, sugary drinks, etc. They also feed on our collections of insects, meat, cheese, dead animals, etc.
Workers feed the larvae with regurgitated fluids and vomited or partially chewed food. Those destined to become queens receive more food than others.
Pharaoh ants don’t really cause damage to our homes; this is not the case with carpenter ants.
In fact, one might consider pharaoh ants of some use. Because they devour bed bugs, silverfish, scales, fly and beetle larvae, fleas, crickets, etc., and feed on their eggs.
But their presence in large numbers is disturbing. In health centres, they may infect patients and equipment because of the pathogenic bacteria(Salmonella, Streptococcus, Clostridium) they carry on them.
The fact that they are travelling in the same places in an Indian queue is a sign ofinfestation. If you see them going back and forth along the same path, it means that it leads to their nest.
Hantavirus, definition and mode of transmission
Hantavirus is a severe lung syndrome caused by a virus. It is secreted in the urine, feces and saliva of infected animals. Most often these are rodents. When humans come into direct or indirect contact with these secretions, the virus is transmitted to them. Ditto when they are bitten by infected rodents.
However, the virus is not transmitted from human to human, only from animal to human. This type of disease is called zoonoses because they can only be transmitted to humans through an animal. It has been found that domestic animals (apart from the domestic rat) and livestock cannot contract hantavirus so there is every reason to believe that only rodents can carry it.
Symptoms of hantavirus
Being a lung disease, one of the characteristic symptoms of hantavirus is difficulty breathing. At the beginning of the disease, the infected person begins to feel fever, chills, headache and muscle pain.
It is about two weeks after the appearance of the first symptoms that they are usually accompanied by a feeling of shortness of breath. Nevertheless, this last manifestation of the disease can be observed after two days as after six weeks; it depends on the organism of the individual.
Hantavirus can also lead to kidney disease or infection. And although they are rare and very few people are prone to them, there is currently no treatment to combat these ailments. It is therefore better to be careful not to contract them.
Exterminator tips to avoid pharaoh ants infestation
Infestations of pharaoh ants can be prevented by adopting good health behaviours:
- Clean your home thoroughly; don’t ignore any corners and always keep it clean,
- Carefully manage waste. Don’t let them hang around,
- Get all the food out of your pantry. Then clean it up. Finally, store your food in refrigerators or in tightly sealed containers,
- Rinse all food wrappers before sending them to the trash,
- Place sticky barriers around table legs, on plant supports, etc. You will then prevent the ants from climbing,
- Wash your bathrooms in case you find a few,
- Avoid leaving foods, cans, plates already used in the open air,
- Educate patients not to leave food inside health centres to avoid germs,
- Block the crevices, openings and cracks in the structure of your buildings,
- Immediately repair water leaks,
- Check any object or furniture before you bring it into your home,
But if the Pharaoh ants have already massively attacked your home, only the professional exterminator can exterminate them. Their colonies are not easy to control and move quickly when they feel threatened.
In addition, several of their nests can be found in the same building.
If you decide to take care of it yourself, don’t spray insecticides. You’ll kill a few of them. You will only disperse most of them that will form into smaller colonies and nest in other parts of your home, giving you the impression that the problem is solved. Of course not! On the contrary, the workers will reappear from one moment to the next.
How does the exterminator treat pharaoh ants
The extermination of pharaoh ants (like that of other species of ants) takes place in two phases:
- The location of nests
In order to ensure that a definitive eradication is carried out, the exterminator will identify their nests. It can trap them by offering them, for example, sugary foods. This will allow them to follow them from feeding to their nests.
- The destruction of nests
As soon as the exterminator has located all the nests of the pharaoh ants, he will destroy them and exterminate all the ants. It can:
- Sprinkle all the nests of pharaoh ants with boiling water,
- Use a powerful vacuum cleaner to suck out the pharaoh ants and then get rid of the vacuum bag,
- Use borax-based pesticides for hard-to-reach nests, used boric acid, and some sugar- or protein-based bait gel.
- Prepare a lethal bait made from icing sugars and borax powder that it introduces into the cracks through which we see the ants coming and going. In this case, the workers will consume this bait and then regurgitate it to the queen and the larvae that will die in turn.
He will also not forget to make their scented tracks disappear with a cleaning product.
But be careful of the choice of exterminator. Some are true amateurs. Far from getting rid of the problem, they will only move it to other parts of your buildings. A true professional:
- Has a very precise and developed working method:
- He always works with a technician with a professional certification in extermination,
- He quickly goes to the scene to identify what types of ants have invaded you, where they come from and the degree of infestation,
- He knows that spraying insecticides during treatment may cause large colonies to split into small colonies,
- It then proposes a treatment specifically tailored to your case,
- Once he has finished his extermination work, he trains and educates the inhabitants about preventive provisions that prevent a future infestation of pharaoh ants.
- Is discreet in his work,
- Offers you a formal guarantee on the effectiveness of its treatment against pharaoh ants.
And you, have you once been invaded by the pharaoh ants? If so, how did you proceed with their elimination? Tell us in the comments below.