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Good afternoon, everyone from sunny, (and currently muggy) southern Nevada. This is your friendly neighborhood bug man Matthew Detisch at American Pest Control. I wanted to drop in here and take a minute to discuss a unique pest that is a challenge for many inexperienced pest control operators and a bane for many-a-homeowner, the tiny Pharaoh ant.

Pharoah ant, or Monomorium Pharaonic for the scientists’ out there, is a very small and very lightly colored species of ant we find every now and then. As a matter of opinion, I believe part of the reason why they go mis-identified is because they are not a common pest encountered by pest control operators. Effective treatments are often only as effective as the operator is experienced. This misidentification is also because of the size and speed of these ants. Pharaoh ants are extremely small and very slow moving, making them appear sometimes like booklice or even fleas to those unaware of what they are dealing with. You also will rarely find Pharaoh ants coming in from the outside, as you would with most species of ants that infest insider homes. The fact that they often get into electrical boxes of different purposes and short out circuits, which causes even more confusion. I won’t go much into detail about how to identify them as a homeowner or as a pest control operator. Enough encounters with the little critter will teach the operator the proper procedure.

What I want the reader to take away here is the importance of why calling a professional is the best course of action. The reason for that is a bad experience with this species of ant. Pharaoh ants are one of the few species of ants that can’t be controlled by traditional “spray-them-down” tactics. Actually, “spraying” for Pharaoh ants will make the infestation even worse. Pharaoh ants go through a common practice called “budding. Some ant species will detach from the main colony and form a smaller sub-colony that acts somewhat independently from the parent colony. Many ant species go through this process, but what makes this a problem in Pharaoh ants is their habit of nesting in living structures. When these ants are exposed to liquid pesticides or other foreign chemicals, they don’t die off. They bud and spread throughout the house making the infestation worse.

So, what is the point of this? Well, the point is this. There is a reason why I always tell customers after they have called me about ants coming in the house, to not spray anything on them! Most people don’t know what kind of species of ant is in their home and spraying them with household chemicals, or over-the-counter pesticides almost never gives the intended results. At best, this will only delay another outbreak or make treating the ants by a professional difficult, if not impossible. At worst, you can make the infestation even bigger and more out of control. Take my advice and call me immediately and keep away from the windex.

Matthew Detisch – Field Manager at American Pest Control