Most ant species active in New York City and northern New Jersey are classified as nuisance pests. Infestations can upset employees and customers and contaminate food supplies in kitchens and restaurants, but most NJ ants pose no serious threat to human life, with one notable exception. Pharaoh ants carry and spread more than a dozen dangerous bacteria and pathogens, including Staphylococcus, Salmonella, Pseudomonas, Streptococcus and Clostridium.
Pharaoh ant infestations are common in hospitals and nursing homes where they can spread infection between patients. Just 1/16th inch long, these tiny ants are pale yellow to red and translucent, making them extremely difficult to see. In hospital settings pharaoh ants are known to feed on wound dressings and will even crawl in and out of open wounds, spreading infection between patients.
Pharaoh ant colonies expand by budding, allowing infestations to grow exponentially. Multiple colonies with hundreds of queens can number in the hundreds of thousands and consume vast quantities of food. Their large colony size makes pharaoh ants a significant problem if they infest a grocery, school or restaurant. These ants prefer to feed on sweets such as fruit juices, syrups, soft drinks and cakes; but they are omnivores and will also devour greasy and fatty foods, breads and dead insects.
A Pharaoh ant infestation can be dangerous and should be immediately addressed by experienced commercial pest control professionals.