Pharaoh ants are non-native household pests that have established an invasive population in all US states except Alaska. These ants are often cited as being the most difficult ant pests to control within homes, and they easily spread from one region to another by hitching rides within infested plants and plant-matter. While Pharaoh ant infestations are indeed extremely difficult to control, many experts state that other invasive pests that have established invasive populations in recent years, like Formosan subterranean termites and red imported fire ants, are comparatively more difficult to control. However, Pharaoh ants are able to survive most common indoor pest treatments, and once they enter a home they rapidly disperse into every indoor nook and cranny imaginable. In fact, persistent and stubborn Pharaoh ant infestations have prompted people to sell their homes after all pest control treatments had been exhausted, but such dramatic actions rarely occur today due to several advancements in the pest control industry. Their feeding behavior is one of the worst aspects of a Pharaoh ant infestation, as these ants will not only infest pantry food items, but they also consume decayed and pathogen-rich animal and insect corpses, which can put the occupants of an infested home at risk of falling victim to disease. Recent research has found that these ants also serve as indoor allergens.
Experts have long known that Pharaoh ants spread well over a dozen pathogens, including several strains of Salmonella, Staphylococcus, and Streptococcus. When given a choice between a fresh insect corpse and a rotting pathogen-rich insect corpse that has sprouted fungi, most insects would choose the former, but Pharaoh ants always choose the latter. The ant’s preference in this regard may be due to a colony-wide effort to develop a stronger immunity to environmental pathogens. Pharaoh ant infestations can pose a medical threat to a home’s occupants even after an infestation has been eradicated. Studies have shown that formerly infested homes, as well as homes that were never known to be infested with Pharaoh ants, still contain the insect’s shed scales, excrement, disintegrating body parts and other such particles. These particles serve as both indoor inhalant allergens that can worsen asthma symptoms, as well as contact-allergens that can cause dermatitis. Decaying Pharaoh ant particles within a home can even trigger an immune response in individuals who have no history of serious allergy symptoms. Luckily, modern pest control methods can adequately address household Pharaoh ant infestations.
Have you ever lived within a home that once saw a Pharaoh ant infestation?