How to Get Rid of Pharaoh Ants

Pharaoh ants are a common household pest that can be tricky to eliminate. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to get rid of pharaoh ants using both chemical and natural methods.

Identifying Pharaoh Ants

Pharaoh ants are small, measuring only 1-2 mm long. They are yellowish-red in color with darker abdomens. Unlike other ant species, pharaoh ants have no evident constriction between the abdomen and thorax.

Pharaoh ants nest indoors, preferring warm, humid environments like kitchens and bathrooms. They forage for food along well-established trails, often hidden in cracks and crevices. Getting rid of pharaoh ants means finding and destroying the nest.

Locating the Nest

Finding the pharaoh ant nest is crucial for effective control. Here are some tips for tracking down their nest:

  • Observe ants to see where trails originate. This will give a clue to nest location.
  • Inspect warm, humid areas like around pipes, vents, wall voids, and cabinets.
  • Follow trailing ants to find the source. Baiting ants with a food source can help trail them back to the nest.
  • Look for areas with increased ant activity. A concentration of foraging ants may indicate the general nest vicinity.

Using Bait to Find the Nest

Place small bait stations, like cotton balls soaked in sugar water, along ant trails. Check them frequently, replenishing bait as needed. Eventually, the ants should carry bait back to the nest, revealing its location. Focus control efforts near baits that draw the most ant activity.

Eliminating Pharaoh Ant Colonies

Once the nest is located, combining chemical and non-chemical methods will provide the best control.

Applying Insecticide Sprays and Dusts

Insecticide sprays and dusts containing active ingredients like pyrethroids can kill pharaoh ants on contact. Focus applications in and around nesting areas for best results:

  • Crack and crevice sprays: Spray insecticide directly into nesting sites in voids and gaps. This provides residual control as ants contact treated areas.
  • Perimeter sprays: Treat outdoor entry points like door and window frames to keep ants from re-entering.
  • Void/wall sprays: Use a pressurized sprayer to penetrate wall voids and other hidden nesting areas.
  • Dust formulations: Dusts adhere well to dry nesting areas and provide long-lasting control. Use a hand duster to apply.

Reapply insecticides every 5-7 days for 2-3 weeks to kill newly emerging ants. Carefully follow all label instructions for effective and safe application.

Destroying and Sealing the Nest

After spraying, take additional steps to destroy and seal up the nest:

  • Remove nesting materials if possible. This may include debris, insulation, wood, etc.
  • Vacuum up all visible ants, eggs, and larvae. This will eliminate a large part of the colony.
  • Seal entry points with caulk or foam sealant so ants cannot return. Pay special attention to cracks and openings.
  • Make the area inhospitable by adjusting humidity and moisture. Fix any leaks and ventilate the area.

These measures will prevent colony reestablishment. Check for and seal any additional nesting sites to avoid reinfestation. Monitor treated areas and reuse insecticides if ant activity resumes.

Using Natural Methods Against Pharaoh Ants

For those wanting to avoid chemicals, natural options can supplement pesticide treatments or provide stand-alone control:

Diatomaceous earth: The sharp edges of DE cut into insect exoskeletons, causing dehydration. Dust generously in nesting areas. Wear a mask when applying.

Borax: Mix with sugary baits that worker ants will carry back to the colony, poisoning them. Place small piles along foraging trails.

Boric acid: Like borax, boric acid is a slow-acting stomach poison. Sprinkle into wall voids and other enclosed nesting spaces.

Essential oils: Oils like peppermint and tea tree deter ants and can kill them on contact when sprayed directly. Wipe down surfaces and use cotton balls soaked in oils along trails.

Ant-repelling plants: Strong aromas from plants like mint, garlic, and chili peppers repel ants naturally. Grow them around the home’s exterior as barriers.

Hygiene: Keep counters and floors clear of food particles and standing water. Thoroughly clean to remove pheromone trails.

Apply natural methods liberally and frequently to control infestations. Combine them with nest removal for most effective elimination of ant colonies. Monitor areas for a minimum of 2-4 weeks to ensure ants do not return.

Preventing Pharaoh Ant Infestations

Prevention is key to keep pharaoh ants away long-term. Here are some tips:

  • Seal cracks, holes, and other entry points with caulk and weatherstripping. This denies ants access.
  • Inspect for ants regularly, setting out bait stations or sticky traps to catch early infestations.
  • Remove clutter like stacks of paper where ants can hide.
  • Clean up food spills and crumbs quickly to deny ants food sources.
  • Fix water leaks and eliminate moisture sources ants need to thrive.
  • Keep kitchen and bathroom surfaces clean and dry.
  • Store human and pet foods in sealed containers.

With diligence, pharaoh ant infestations can be effectively eliminated from the home. Combining insecticide sprays, thorough nest removal, sealing entry points, natural deterrents, and sanitation practices provides comprehensive control. Be patient, as defeating a pharaoh ant colony takes time, but is very possible with a sustained, integrated pest management approach. With persistence, you can safely get rid of pharaoh ants for good.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pharaoh Ants

How do you get rid of pharaoh ants naturally?

Use boric acid, diatomaceous earth, essential oils, and ant-repelling plants. Place along ant trails and in nesting areas. Keep areas clean and dry. Seal cracks and holes to prevent reentry.

What chemical kills pharaoh ants?

Insecticides like pyrethroids, boric acid, and fipronil work well. Apply crack and crevice sprays, perimeter sprays, wall void sprays, baits, and dusts. Read all labels carefully before use.

Do pharaoh ants bite?

Pharaoh ants can bite but rarely do. They have small mandibles and prefer sweet liquids like nectar over biting humans or pets. Their bites are not venomous but may cause minor irritation.

How do you get rid of pharaoh ants in electronics?

Use compressed air to flush ants out. Wipe down surfaces with rubbing alcohol to erase pheromone trails. Place devices in sealed plastic bags with pest strips or mothballs to kill remaining ants. Store electronics off the floor or away from infested areas.

What attracts pharaoh ants?

Pharaoh ants seek out sweet and fatty foods. They are also attracted to moisture and warmth, usually nesting in humid indoor spots near food preparation areas and plumbing. Keeping these areas clean and dry helps deter ants.


Pharaoh ants can multiply quickly if left unchecked, but don’t let them overwhelm your home. With consistent diligence using proven chemical and natural control methods, you can safely eliminate pharaoh ant infestations. Remember to always combine nest removal and entry point sealing to prevent ants from returning. Be patient and persistent, and soon you’ll be free of pesky pharaoh ants for good.