Pest control

About ants

There are two species of ant commonly found in the UK:

  • Garden ant
  • Pharaoh's ant

The Garden ant has a black segmented body. The workers are 5mm long and the queen is 15mm long and brown in colour. Its nests are found in soil, lawns and close to buildings. Although the nests are exclusively outside, the ants often enter premises in search of food.

The Pharaoh's ant, which is of tropical origin, is a smaller species. The workers are 2mm long, the queen 5mm long and both are yellow in colour. It requires a very warm environment and has adapted itself to life in large, heated buildings such as hospitals, hotels and blocks of flats.

Health risks

The Garden ant is a nuisance because of its foraging habit but it does not carry germs or spread disease. They are attracted to sugary food. The presence of ants in food may be unpleasant but does not constitute a health risk.

Pharaoh's ants are of greater significance as they carry harmful germs which they pick up when feeding on decomposing food, faecal matter and when coming into contact with drains and hospital dressings. They are very difficult to eradicate.


Garden ants are attracted to sweet foods, which they take back to their nest. Keep sugary foods in closed containers and clear up crumbs and spillages.

Additionally, an insecticidal dust or spray may be applied to form a barrier to prevent ants gaining entry to your premises. Pay particular attention to areas around doors, window frames and air vents and gaps in the brickwork.

The only alternative is destroying the nest. Once the nest is located, treat with an insecticide or boiling water.

An infestation of Pharaoh's ants must be treated professionally. You can book an appointment with the council's pest control contractor or with a pest control contractor in your area. These are listed in the Yellow Pages.

Click on the "Introduction" tab at the top of this page for details of the current cost of treatment by the council's pest control contractor.

Contact Details

Pest Control Service
Department Adult services Health and Housing
Telephone 020 8726 6200
Address Needs and Strategy- Housing and Public Health
13th Floor
Taberner House
Park Lane

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