Pest Identification

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The History of the Pharaoh Ant: A Common but Curious Household Pest

While you may not recognize a Pharaoh ant by its name alone, chances are that you have seen one or two, or even several hundred or thousand, in homes and living spaces throughout the world. They are one of the most common household pests, along with being one of the most disliked, but at least they have an interesting and surprising history.


How It Got Its Name


The legend of the Pharaoh ant’s name is nearly as exotic – at least for the insect world – as the Pharaoh of ancient Egypt. In fact, the Pharaoh ant’s story begins in ancient Egypt. It is thought, but probably a mistaken idea, that one of the original plagues of Egyptian times was the Pharaoh ant, a creature that infested society and drove the ancient people as crazy as they drive modern people. Pharaoh ants were named after the Egyptian ruler, the Pharaoh.

One of the most interesting things about Pharaoh ants is that they were the first ant species documented to use both positive and negative pheromones, or chemicals that they release from their body that can attract or repel other creatures and insects. These negative pheromones serve the ant by signaling that no food is offered that direction, therefore helping it navigate towards more rewarding areas for food, and aiding its communication with other ants of its kind.


Identifying Pharaoh Ants


Now that you know a little bit more about the origin of the Pharaoh ant species, you may want to be able to recognize this variety if you see it. Pharaoh ants are very small, and pale yellow to reddish in color with black shading on top of the rear portion of the abdomen. Like fire ants, Pharaoh ants have a stinger, but it’s rarely extended or visible.

They can be found on any continent in the world excluding Antarctica, and thrive especially well indoors where it is warm. Pharaoh ants have two stomachs and can lift and carry an object that is up to three times their size and weight. Trying to drown out your ants using water? You might want to use something stronger, as Pharaoh ants are capable of surviving one full day submerged in water.

While Pharaoh ants might have a fascinating background, this doesn’t mean you necessarily want them hanging out in your kitchen with you. Like most ants, Pharaoh ants can be gotten rid of with the right pest control tool.