Pharaoh Ant


Actual Size: 1/16″ to ⅛”

Characteristics: Small; typically light yellow to red, with black markings on the abdomen. 

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Wings: No


  • Attracted to moisture and will nest in hard-to-reach areas.
  • Reliant on artificial heating in buildings, commonly infesting food areas.
  • Potentially dangerous in hospitals due to their ability to transmit disease organisms.

Pharaoh Ants in Illinois and Indiana

Pharaoh ants are found throughout Illinois and Indiana and are one of the smallest species of ants. Also known as tramp ants, this invasive species constructs temporary colonies that splinter off and form new colonies when disturbed. Due to their splintering ability, Pharoah ant infestations can spread quickly in homes and buildings, forming colonies with over 300,000 workers and multiple queens. These ants prefer to establish nests in hard-to-reach locations like wall voids, subfloors, and attics.

Pharaoh Ant Habitat

Attracted to moisture, Pharaoh ants nest outside in shaded areas or under debris. In household structures, their nests are often located in inaccessible spots near moisture, such as kitchens, bathrooms, interior walls voids, behind baseboards, and within window sills. In institutional facilities, they are found in kitchens, laundries, boiler rooms, and toilets, heating ducts, and pipes. Pharaoh ants use electrical wires and plumbing pipes to travel from room to room, spreading quickly throughout a structure. 

Pharaoh Ant Behaviors, Threats, and Dangers

Pharaoh ants have been implicated in the spread of more than a dozen disease pathogens, like salmonella and streptococcus. Due to their ability to transmit disease organisms, they are potentially dangerous in hospitals and institutions. Pharaoh ants are tiny allowing them to access almost any space, contaminating food as they forage. In addition, this species can survive most conventional household pest control treatments, establishing large colonies throughout a home or building. If a Pharaoh ant infestation is suspected, it is recommended to contact a professional ant exterminator.