The Monomorium Pharaonis is also called “Pharaoh Ant”. The species was originally native to Africa but has invaded many countries in the world, except Antarctica. It prefers tropical regions but feels very comfortable in human buildings such as hospitals, storage buildings, homes, or greenhouses.
The Pharaoh Ant is known to be one of the most invasive and hardy species. It is not a good pet ant for beginners and is often considered a pest in populated areas due to its habit to nest wherever humans live. The Monomorium Pharaonis is even a huge concern in hospitals all around the world as it spreads diseases.
The Pharaoh Ants are omnivorous. They are generalists when it comes to their diet and will eat almost anything they can find in human homes. This species is partially dependent on humans because they cannot survive in cold places and need to stay in human buildings. This is why they have a close association with humans.
Monomorium Pharaonis feed on a variety of foods such as animal food, any kind of liquids, especially sweet liquids, fats, small insects, and anything humans drop on the floor or store somewhere accessible.
If you own Monomorium Pharaonis you can feed them a mixture of honey and water, sugar water, and dead insects for the protein.
Pharaoh Ants feel most comfortable at a temperature between 24° C and 28° C, but they can survive anything between 15° C and 35° C. If you want to achieve faster growth, the temperature should be slightly higher at around 27° C to 30° C.
Monomorium Pharaonis cannot survive cold temperatures. This is why they tend to nest indoors in countries that have cold winters.
The perfect humidity for these ants is between 50% and 70%, but anything between 30% and 80% is perfectly fine.
The Monomorium Pharaonis is one of the smallest ant species with workers and male drones that are only around 2 mm in length. The queens are approximately 4 mm long. The workers have light brown to red-colored bodies, the males are black, and the queens are slightly darker than the workers.
The queens have an average lifespan of around 12 months. The life expectancy of a single queen says nothing about the duration of a colony because most colonies are home to tens, if not hundreds of egg-laying queens.
Monomorium Pharaonis do not hibernate. They cannot survive cold temperatures and even very large colonies can be eradicated within only 6 days at temperatures below 0° C.
Do not try to hibernate your Monomorium Pharaonis if you own a colony. They will probably not survive it.
Queen – Reproduction
Colonies start both monogynous and polygynous, but primarily polygynous. Due to their habit of inbreeding, colonies are often home to tens or even hundreds of queens.
The colony size can grow extremely quickly to several hundred thousand ants. When the colony gets too big, single queens will take some of the worker ants with them to build a new nest. This is called colony fission or budding.
The development period from egg to adult is only between 25 and 54 days. Eggs can hatch within one week, which is a rather quick development compared to other ant species.
The Monomorium Pharaonis perform nuptial flights, but there seems to be no real schedule. They fly randomly or simply inbreed. This is what makes them an incredibly quickly growing species because they can inbreed with all their queens.
The Monomorium Pharaonis is native to Africa but has successfully invaded most countries in the world, except for the Antarctic. It is theoretically restricted to tropical and subtropical climates, but it can survive in most countries as long as it stays indoors. The Pharaoh Ant nests preferably in human buildings such as homes, warehouses, greenhouses, public buildings, and hospitals where it is considered a pest and threat as it spreads diseases.
If Monomorium Pharaonis ants nest indoors, they can be found almost anywhere such as in-wall cracks, light sockets, and any kind of electrical device, no matter how small it is,
Overall Difficulty Rating
The Monomorium Pharaonis is an invasive species and a permit is needed in many places to legally import them. It is also illegal to release non-native ants to the wild, therefore the only ways to get rid of pet Pharaoh ants would be to give them to someone else, or to kill them.
It is rather irresponsible to keep Monomorium Pharaonis as pets due to their ability to escape almost any form of formicarium. The ants are tiny and can squeeze through any kind of crack or opening. Even the outworld is recommended to be airtight.
Even though the Pharaoh Ants multiply quickly, are hardy, and easy to keep alive, they are almost impossible to keep inside of a formicarium. They are probably one of the hardest household ants to control and absolutely not for beginners.
Lisa is one of the two founders of Animal-Knowledge. She has been very interested in animals and insects from a very young age and has owned different kinds of pets such as snails, ants, fish, turtles, mice, rats, hamsters, rabbits, a dog, … you get the idea 🙂