Common Name: Pharaoh ant
Scientific Name: Varies
Description: Also called the sugar ant or piss ant, these are some of the smallest ants, about 1/12-16 inch long, with a light tan to reddish body.
Over 200 species of ants are known to occur in Texas. A number of other ant species are occasionally encountered in and around the home. The acrobat ant, Crematogaster sp., nests under stones, in stumps or dead wood and occasionally invade the home. These ants have a heart-shaped abdomen that is often held up over their bodies. They feed primarily on honeydew produced by aphids. The Argentine ant, Iridomyrmex humilus (Mayr), workers are light to dark brown and generally nest outdoors. It is not common in areas infested by the red imported fire ant. The bigheaded ant, Pheidole megacephala (Fabricius). Worker ants have relatively large heads compared to their bodies. They have a 12 segmented antenna and three-segmented clubs. Their habits are similar to red imported fire ants, feeding on live and dead insects, seeds and honeydew outdoors and greasy food sources and sweets indoors. Workers of the crazy ant,
Paratrechina longicornis (Latreille), are fast-running grayish black ants with long legs and antennae. Although they nest primrily outdoors, they will forage in homes. Although they are omnivorous, they are difficult to attract to ant baits. The little black ant, Monomorium minimum (Buckley), is a slow-moving small and black ant that is generally not a pest indoors. Workers prey on insects and feed on honeydew produced by sucking types of insects such as aphids. Workers of the odorous house ant, Tapinoma sessile (Say), look somewhat like a red imported fire ant, but has a pungent “rotten-coconutlike” smell when crushed. Workers of the pavement ant, Tetramorium caespitum (Linnaeus), also resemble the fire ant, but on close examination the head and thorax are roughened with parallel grooves rather than being smooth.
Life Cycle: Development of worker ants progresses from eggs (5-6 days), to several larval stages (22-24 days), prepupal stage (2 to 3 days), a pupae (9-12 days) and adult ants, thus taking from 38 to 45 days from egg to adult (4 days longer for sexual forms). Colonies consist of one to several hundred queen ants, sterile female worker ants, periodically produced winged male and female reproductive ants (sexuals) and brood (developmental stages). These ants do not swarm. Colonies multiply by “budding”, whereby a large part of an existing colony migrates carrying brood to a new nesting site.
Habitat, Food Source(s), Damage: Mouthparts are for chewing. Pharaoh ants are omnivorous, feeding on sweets (jelly, particularly mint apple jelly, sugar, honey, etc.), cakes and breads, and greasy or fatty foods (pies, butter, liver and bacon). Nests can be found outdoors and almost anywhere indoors (light sockets, potted plants, wall voids, attics, in any cracks and crevices) particularly close to sources of warmth and water.
Pest Status: The most commonly occurring indoor ant in Texas; in hospitals, it can be a carrier of more than a dozen pathogenic bacteria including Staphylococcus, Salmonella, Pseudomonas and Clostridium; these ants do not sting or and usually do not bite.
Management: See House-Infesting Ants and Their Management
Literature: Ebling 1978. McIlveen 1986.