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How to Manage Pests

Key to Identifying Common Household Ants

Pharaoh ant—Monomorium pharaonis
Subfamily: Myrmicinae

Pharaoh ant
Photo by Max Badgley

Pharaoh ant characteristics

Identifying characteristics

  • Workers are all the same size, 1/16-inch long
  • Yellow or honey-colored to orange
  • Petiole with two nodes
  • Thorax uneven in shape when viewed from side with no spines
  • 12-segmented antennae with 3-segmented club


  • Feed on both living and dead insects
  • Inside, feed on sweets, fats, and proteins
  • Travel in set trails along carpets, countertops, cabinets, floors, and baseboards
  • Found in places with moisture
  • May use electrical wires and plumbing pipes to travel from room to room
  • Colonies very mobile; workers, along with larvae, pupae, and even a few queens, may move to new locations if disturbed or if colony becomes too large

Nest type and size

  • Nest in household structures such as wall and cabinet voids, behind baseboards, behind refrigerator insulation, inside hollow curtain rods, or in the folds of sheets, clothes, or paper
  • Outdoors nest in debris or cracks and crevices
  • Colonies with up to 300,000 workers with multiple queens

See also, pharaoh ant quick management tips.

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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