Are Pharaoh Ants In Honolulu Dangerous?

a pharaoh ant infestation in Hawaii

One of the most widespread ant species in the world, pharaoh ants were spread by human commerce and human migration, and now they inhabit most of the same places people do, including our home state of Hawaii. Since they’re vulnerable to cold weather, they’re forced to nest almost exclusively indoors in all but the warmest regions.

Here in Hawaii, pharaoh ants can nest in the soil because our winters are so warm. But that doesn’t mean that’s the only reason they sneak into our houses. Like all ants, pharaoh ants are highly motivated to get into human habitations because of all the delightful goodies sitting in our pantries and our garbage cans. Let’s talk about a few ways to keep out these annoying pests.

How To Spot A Pharaoh Ant

Because they’re globally distributed – inhabiting every continent except Antarctica – there’s a lot of controversy surrounding the pharaoh ant’s origins. Many entomologists believe these ants originated in the African tropics. Pharaoh ants are tiny – only 1/16 to 1/12 of an inch long. They’re normally some variation of brown, either reddish or yellowish. And they feed mostly on fats and sweets. Pharaoh ants have such a sweet tooth one of their nicknames is the “sugar ant.”

These ants create massive colonies that consist of dozens to hundreds of nests, each with one or more queens. Individual ants in a colony can hop from nest to nest without confrontation. This behavior allows them to spread endemically, establishing colonies that are nearly impossible to eradicate.

Dangers Of Pharaoh Ants

Pharaoh ants got their name from the erroneous idea they were one of the ten plagues of ancient Egypt. While this belief isn’t true, these ants may as well have been a plague. They aren’t dangerous in themselves, but they’re known or suspected to spread over a dozen serious pathogens, including salmonella, staphylococcus, and streptococcus bacteria. These ants may also carry the clostridium bacteria – one of the causative agents of botulism. While this can be a problem for homeowners, it’s a nightmare for hospitals and other healthcare facilities where these ants like to invade.

Prevention Tips

It’s probably safe to say you don’t want ants full of salmonella and botulism just flitting about on your kitchen countertop. Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do to prevent pharaoh ant infestations such as:

  • Make sure doors and windows fit tightly, and use weather stripping to close any gaps in door sweeps or window sills.
  • Repair any damage around your home like cracks in the siding or foundation. 
  • Check window and door screens for damage and repair or replace them if they are damaged.
  • Store all pantry items in airtight containers and don’t keep things like fruits or cookies just sitting out.
  • Take out the trash often and cover all trash containers with tight-fitting lids.

What To Do If You Get An Infestation

The bad news is pharaoh ants are often dependent on humans for food and shelter, so they don’t want to be kicked out of our homes. They’re also able to withstand most household pest control products, meaning homeowners’ and business owners’ attempts to eradicate them on their own can lead to further spread.

The good news is there’s help out there. Here at Able Pest Management, we’ve been providing reliable and effective solutions to the island of Oahu for more than 20 years! With our deep understanding of the pests that afflict Hawaii, our treatment specialists can help you get rid of even the toughest pests. So visit our contact page at Able Pest Management or give us a call at (808) 353-5299 to schedule your pest inspection today.

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