I am a specialist in Intensive Care and Anesthesiology, working at a multidisciplinary hospital. I suspect that this fact may come as a surprise to you. Nevertheless, it is true. As doctors, besides our work, like most other people, we also have our interests and passions. Often, they are completely different from our professional pursuits.
In my case, social insects have become my passion. Particularly, their structural organization, which bears a striking resemblance to the tissues and organs of higher organisms (which has some medical connotations). That’s why their colonies are often referred to as superorganisms. Ant and bee keeping (WindowBee) has been like observing a simulation of an organism since my early years. I didn’t look at them as individual insects, but as cells, tissues, and organs of a larger whole – the colony.
As a teenager, I tried keeping pharaoh ants, but due to the limited availability of breeding materials and a lack of access to advanced knowledge, those attempts ended with the demise of small colonies of that species, which, considering the circulating myth of their invincibility, was surprising to me. This happened in the 1990s when the internet didn’t exist for me at that time.
I enthusiastically and passionately bred many species of ants, but Monomorium pharaonis, being the only one known to me at that time, provided the theoretical possibility of true breeding work based on crossbreeding and parental selection of successive ant generations.
I returned to breeding work many times, but it was only with the availability of fluon on the Polish market – a substance that prevents escape from ant farms – and the internet with extensive information databases that I could synthesize ideas for efficient breeding of this species along with a breeding program.
I developed a method of producing food and constructing breeding chambers in such a way that it became possible to achieve a doubling of colonies within 70-75 days. Mass breeding of colonies allowed me to focus on their potential use as utility insects.
Literature is rich in numerous, although unsystematic, observations of pharaoh ants destroying populations of bed bugs. These pieces of information gave meaning to my work with these insects because, in addition to the pleasure of observing their biology and genetics, they allow for a practical and tangible use of this species. They also present them in a much better light, not as household pests but as allies in certain circumstances.
My education and work with these insects have allowed me to dispel many myths regarding the harmfulness and associated dangers of this species.
I started treating them as a remedy that removes a much more troublesome pest, such as the bed bug. Like any medication, it also has its side effects and indications for use. If one follows the restrictions and indications, this ant is a very effective medicine with minimal side effects.
Among the myths circulating on the internet and in some publications about this species (often originating from the previous century) is the claim that these ants can sting or bite humans. This is untrue because their sting is modified to deliver venom onto larger insects and paralyze them. It is shaped like a blade, not a needle. Thanks to this adaptation, tiny ants can deal with larger insects, including bed bugs. They dismember them and carry the small fragments back to the nest as food for older larvae.
Another myth is the spreading of dangerous bacteria by these insects. It is a kind of misunderstanding. It originated from studies on cases of these ants spreading multidrug-resistant bacteria in healthcare centers and hospitals, where they had access to contaminated surfaces such as dressings, amputated tissues, and others. In domestic conditions, pharaoh ants can only transport the bacteria they come into contact with. In the vast majority of cases, these are ordinary species of microorganisms found in our
homes. I test my colonies bacteriologically in accordance with medical knowledge to exclude the transmission of harmful, antibiotic-resistant bacteria by my ants.
Thank you for sticking with this section about me, and I wish you an interesting read regarding the use of pharaoh ants.
I am open to cooperation with interested pest control companies, especially in cases where “treatment” with pharaoh ants is indicated, i.e., when other methods fail to remove a bed bug infestation.