Pharaoh Ant


Actual Size: 1/16″ to ⅛”

Characteristics: Small; light yellow to red in color, with dark markings on the abdomen.

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Wings: No

Habitat: Drawn to moisture and typically builds nests near kitchens and bathrooms. May also nest inside interior wall voids, beneath floors, or behind baseboards.


  • Has very large colonies, often containing over 300,000 individual ants with multiple queens.
  • Usually nests in damp areas that are difficult to access.
  • Capable of transmitting dangerous diseases to other organisms.

Pharaoh Ants in the Pacific Northwest

Pharaoh ants are very persistent pests throughout the Pacific Northwest, though they are not native to the area. Thought to originate in Africa, these ants were carried by commerce to nearly every area of the world. Because of their incredibly large colonies, which can contain several million workers and thousands of queens, these ants outnumber native ants in the Portland OR area and are an invasive species. Pharaoh ant colonies are also capable of splintering, which means they can break apart to form new colonies if disrupted. This trait allows these ants to spread through homes and buildings extremely quickly, which can cause major problems for home and property owners.

Pharaoh Ant Habitat

Pharaoh ants primarily feed on proteins, sweets, and live or dead insects. These ants also need a water source to survive, so they typically build nests near moist areas such as sprinkler systems or cooling units. If Pharaoh ants make it indoors, they typically build nests in damp and hard-to-reach areas, including bathrooms, kitchens, or beneath floorboards. Pharaoh ants also frequently use plumbing pipes or electrical wiring to travel from room to room, which allows them to spread throughout an entire building with ease.

Pharaoh Ant Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers

Though Pharaoh ants are not known to bite humans, they can carry and transmit dangerous diseases to humans and pets. Pathogens such as salmonella, staphylococcus, and clostridium – which may lead to botulism – are commonly carried by these ants. And, because of their small size and large colonies, Pharaoh ants can infiltrate almost any area of a home or building. If these pests enter a hospital or nursing home, they can pose a major threat to health by contaminating sterile surgical equipment or operating rooms. Pharaoh ants can also be incredibly difficult to remove, as many conventional pest control methods do not work on these ants. If you suspect there is a Pharaoh ant infestation on or near your property, it is important to contact a professional ant exterminator as soon as possible.