The pharaoh ant (Monomorium pharaonis) is a small (2 mm) yellow or light brown, almost transparent ant notorious for being a major indoor nuisance pest, especially in hospitals.
The pharaoh ant, whose origins are unknown, has now been introduced to virtually every area of the world, including Europe, the Americas, Australasia and Southeast Asia.
Each colony produces sexually reproductive individuals roughly twice a year. However, colonies raised in a laboratory can be manipulated to produce sexuals at any time of year.
Colonies proliferate by “budding” (also called “satelliting” or “fractionating”), where a subset of the colony including queens, workers and brood (eggs, larvae and pupae) leave the main colony for an alternative nest site.
Pharaoh ant colonies appear to prefer familiar nests to novel nests while budding. This suggests the ability for colonies to remember certain qualities of their living space. However, if the novel (unfamiliar) nest is of superior quality, the colony may initially move toward the familiar, but will eventually select the unfamiliar. The colony assumes the familiar nest is preferable, unless they sense better qualities in the novel nest. This decision-making process seeks to minimize the time the colony is without a nest while optimizing the nest the colony finally chooses.
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