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Ants that are normally seen in this country is the common black ant, and of course the red ant, less common is the yellow meadow ant, which is normally seen in the warm areas of the garden.

All of these ants carry out the scavenging of dead insects and aphids in the garden, where we are all only too happy to leave them alone.

When they infringe into our living areas, we are at war with them and they must go.

Pharaoh ants are a different type of ant, and cannot be killed in the normal manner of ant destruction, if Pharaoh ants are killed as per normal ants, the colony will split several times, which will cause a relatively small job to clear them into a major task.

Although pharaoh ants feed on a wide variety of foodstuffs, including syrups, sugar, honey, cake, breads, and butter, they apparently prefer grease, meat, and fat.

Pharaoh ants nest almost anywhere and in some very unusual places which in turn make the control of these ants difficult to say the least.

Nest sites are usually associated with favourable humidity, temperature, and light, not with proximity to food. Pharaoh ants will forage fairly long distances from their nesting sites in search of food.

Pharaoh ants have become particularly well adapted to living in close association with people. They prefer areas where the temperature is about 80°F and the humidity 80%, but they do well within a moderate range on either side of these figures.

There are two main pest species, the Black or Garden Ant (Lasius niger) and the Pharoah’s Ant (Monomorium pharaonis). They both cause nuisance as they travel widely in search of food, following trails and clustering around the food source.

Pharaoh's Ants pose the biggest risk to health. As they often feed in unhygienic areas such as drains and bins they can easily transmit pathogens. This can be of particular concern if infestations are found in sterile hospital environments. Infestations can also be more difficult to eradicate as the worker ants have the ability to ‘bud off’ new colonies if the main colony is under stress.

 Lasius niger

Common name: Black Ant, Garden Ant

Length: 2 - 12mm

Colour & description: The workers are 2 – 5mm in length and dark brown/black. Queens are upto 12mm long and are brown.

Habits & habitat: Black ants nest outdoors in walls and under paving etc. They forage widely for food and water and commonly enter domestic premises and control is only required where they have become a serious nuisance indoors. Have only 1 queen per nest.

Reproduction rate: A black ant colony has a single queen and tends to have about 5,000 individuals. A queen can live up to 12 years.

Life cycle: 50 – 70 days

 Monomorium pharaonis

Common name: Pharoah’s Ant

Length: 1.5 - 5mm

Colour & description: The workers are 1.5 - 2mm in length and yellow-brown in colour. The antennal segments end in a distinct club with three progressively longer segments. Queens are between 3.6 - 5mm long and are dark red in colour. They are winged but do not fly.

Habits & habitat: They require warm humid conditions so in many areas they are confined to buildings. In warm climates infestations can be found outside. Infestations can be found in a wide variety of locations including apartment blocks, hotels, hospitals, food handling premises etc.

Have many queens per nest and infestations tend to spread through budding. Foraging workers leave the main nest with brood to form satellite colonies.

Life cycle: 38 – 45 days

Reproduction rate: A Pharaoh Ant queen can lay 400 or more eggs in her lifetime. Most lay 10 to 12 eggs per batch in the early days of egg production and only four to seven eggs per batch later.