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How to get rid of Pharaoh Ants

Know your enemy

Below are listed all the steps required that will tell you how to get rid of pharaoh ants.

Pharaoh ants are tiny, yellow ants, about 2mm long. They were originally a tropical ant, but are now found all over the world. Their dependence on warm, indoor places and their preferred protein-based diet makes them a major pest, particularly in hospitals where they can spread disease and contaminate sterile equipment and rooms.

pharaoh ant on kitchen work surface

They are particularly difficult to eradicate because of their tendency to move colonies from place to place, or start new ones when they are disturbed, a phenomenon known as budding.

Pharaoh ant colonies have multiple queens, and when a nest is threatened, a queen and a few workers will migrate and there will be two nests where once there was one. A single queen lays eggs in batches of 10-12 but can lay 100s of eggs in her lifetime because she can live from 4 to 12 months and pharaoh ants breed all year round.

At optimum temperature, a pharaoh ant can go from egg to sexual maturity in about 45 days. It is not surprising that an infestation can spread through a six-storey building in just six months.

Pharaoh ants make their nest anywhere it is warm, dark and undisturbed – walls, voids, behind baseboards, the back of refrigerators, the hollows of curtain rods, the folds of clothes, bed linen and paper. Nests seem to grow to the size of the void and in the most inaccessible of places. Tower blocks, hospitals, prisons, care homes and factories are particularly susceptible to pharaoh ant infestation because of the presence of boiler rooms and complex central heating systems.

diagram of pharaoh ant colony

They have a complex and efficient food foraging system maintained by pheromones, and food preferences alternate between carbohydrate-rich and protein-rich substances. So they feed on sweet, fatty, oily foods, meat, pet food, cereals, rice, and make light work of getting into packaging.

They are a particular problem in hospitals where they are attracted to open wounds, soiled bandages and the sugary substance in IV drips. They like moist areas such as sinks, toilets, dishwashers, water fountains and houseplants and if the nest is far from a water supply, they are capable of transmitting a lot of pathogens as they search for it.

What damage do pharaoh ants cause ?

Pharaoh ants are not going to cause great damage to your property, but they are a nuisance if they get into cupboards looking for cereals, rice and other such products. They are extremely adept at finding their way into all sorts of packaging and will leave quite a trail of destruction.

The main concern with these ants is that because they have diverse food preferences and will feed on meat, fatty, oily foods and other proteins in rubbish bins, they have a propensity to spread diseases such as salmonella, staphylococcus, and clostridium, which may cause botulism. This is a particular problem in hospitals where they are attracted to open wounds and dirty bandages.  

The risk is greater where the nest is farthest from a water supply, as they have further to travel, so more of a problem in tower blocks and care homes.

How to tell if you have pharaoh ants ?

  • The most obvious sign is an active trail of ants across walls to food sources. These trails will only be evident during the day as pharaoh ants are inactive at night.
  • Such food sources will be in cupboards, where they find their way into packets and boxes
  • Pet food and rubbish bins with discarded meat are common areas of infestation.
  • They will be found in warm areas and around water supplies, so kitchens and bathrooms are particularly popular nesting sites

Before you go on the attack

First, follow basic hygiene rules and make sure you keep everywhere clean, particularly kitchen areas. Wipe up spillages, clean up crumbs and food residue, make sure cupboards are regularly wiped clean and don’t let rubbish build up.

Keep pet food in sturdy containers and don’t leave it hanging around.

Establish where food trails are, as control will be more effective if the bait is targeted properly.

How to get rid of pharaoh ants

The only feasible way to get rid of these ants is with bait formulated specifically for them such as Biopren Pharaoh Ant Killer. Do not spray or use insecticidal powder; this will only serve to scatter the ants, thereby making the problem worse.

Biopren Pharaoh Ant Killer

Biopren Pharaoh Ant Colony Killer comes in a 2.5g sachet. It contains an insect growth regulator that will not immediately kill the ants but will prevent the queens laying eggs and will interrupt the natural development of the larvae. A nest should be eliminated in 12-14 weeks.

Imidasect Pharaoh Ant Gel Bait 35g

Imidasect Ant Gel Bait (authorisation No. UK-2016-1043) is a ready to use gel bait, specifically designed for the treatment of Pharaoh and Argentine ants.


Biopren Pharaoh Ant Colony Eliminator is available in 2.5g sachets and comes in packs of 2 or boxes of 12. It contains the insect growth regulator s-methoprene and an attractant. 

The ants will take the bait back to the nest where it is fed to the rest of the colony. The insect growth regulator in the bait interrupts the breeding cycle of the ant by preventing the production of worker ants and sterilising the queen.

A colony should be eliminated in 12-14 weeks. Bait should be replaced until there is no more sign of ant activity. It is important to place the bait along the pharaoh ant trails for it to be most effective, not just placed randomly around the room.

All affected areas should be treated. If the ants do not appear to take the bait, place honey, sugar or jelly as an attractant, before replacing it with the bait.


Summary of the best way to deal with pharaoh ants:

  1. Keep everywhere clean and tidy
  2. Use Biopren pharaoh ant colony eliminator
  3. Use Imidasect Ant Gel
  4. Avoid regular ant powders and sprays

Remember that complete elimination of a pharaoh ant colony can take weeks. Keep baiting until there is no more ant activity and be patient. If you need any more information, get in touch today.

Read more: How to get rid of ants

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