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Pharaoh Ants A Menace Inside Hospitals


Pharaoh ants (Monomorium pharaonis), which have been called Pharaoh's ants by some, due to a mistaken assumption that these ants were one of the plagues unleashed on Pharaoh in the Bible, are not much to look at all by themselves. At a mere 1.5 to 2 mm (1/16 of an inch) you might be tempted to wonder how these ants could have ever been considered a plague. But, pharaoh ants don't work alone. A single colony can have as many as 3,000 individuals. And pharaoh ants don't have nestmate recognition. This allows many colonies to be near each other without conflict, creating a sort of supercolony. Today, we're going to look at how these and other traits make pharaoh ants a menace to hospitals. But keep in mind that the issues covered in this article apply to other businesses and facilities as well.

Pharaoh Ants Are Tiny

As mentioned above, pharaoh ants are tiny. This makes them impossible to keep out of a hospital without ongoing pest control treatments to the exterior of the facility. Their small size also allows them to move through, and hide inside, a hospital with little difficulty.

Pharaoh Ants Do Not Require Soil

Many ants live in the soil outside of a building and go in and out through holes in the exterior walls or foundation, but not pharaoh ants. This ant species is not limited to living in the ground outside. It can establish itself in wall voids, floor voids, and other undisturbed places. And, since they are so small, they can create nests in some surprisingly tight spaces.

They are even known to establish colonies between linen sheets, books, and other objects that are not part of a structure. In a hospital, they have been found infesting incubators in maternity wards, IV tubing, and other sensitive items. This makes pharaoh ants a dangerous hospital pest.   

Pharaoh Ant Colonies Grow Quickly

Inside a pharaoh ant colony, there can be more than one queen. Each queen can lay her own set of eggs, each queen can live as long as 12 months, and each queen breeds continuously during her lifetime. This adds up to a lot of ants, quickly, and overwhelming numbers over time.

Pharaoh Ant Colonies Split

Since a pharaoh ant colony has multiple queens, it is capable of splitting into one or more individual colonies if a threat is perceived. This is called budding and it makes eradicating pharaoh ants extremely difficult once they get inside a structure. Extermination can take time, even for an educated and experienced pest control team.

Pharaoh Ants Are Dirty

The worst trait of all is the ability these ants have to pick up harmful bacteria from dirty places and carry those bacteria into sensitive areas. These ants crawl around in trash cans, on the rims of toilet bowls, in and out of dirty drains, and more. Then, those same ants go into clean rooms through wall voids and outlets to spread the bacteria they've picked up.

Pharaoh Ants Feed On Patients

While these ants are often called sugar ants, they also eat protein. This can lead them to feed on the wounds of patients, particularly burn patients. And sugar ants are tiny enough to squeeze under, and through, gauze bandaging.

Pharaoh Ants Are A Danger To Cafeteria Food

This pest can indirectly affect patients, guests of patients, and hospital staff by contaminating food and food prep surfaces in the cafeteria. Pharaoh ants have a diverse diet of sweets and protein, and they can find an endless supply of meals in a cafeteria kitchen.

Pharaoh Ant Control

If you are seeing pharaoh ants in your hospital, and you're in our South Carolina service area, reach out to Aiken Pest Control. Our QualityPro Certified team is one of the best in the business. We'll assist you in developing a commercial pest plan that will target and eliminate these ants. We'll also guide you in the process of setting up a year-round pest plan that prevents these and other harmful pests from getting in. For more information, or to set up a consultation, reach out to us today. We look forward to serving you.