How to Get Rid of Ghost Ants

Pepper Moran is a pest control expert with over five years experience in educating homeowners on affordable and earth-friendly ways to protect their homes from pests.

ghost ant infestation

The Spruce / Michela Buttignol

  • Identification
  • Ways to Get Rid of Ghost Ants

Ghost Ants vs. Other Budding Ants

Ghost ants ( Tapinoma melanocephalum) are tiny, highly mobile, warmth-seeking insects that do not pose any structural or health risks, but can be incredibly difficult to eradicate, especially when over-the-counter sprays have been used to try and control them.

While ghost ants may not bite or cause damage to the home, finding these little buggers in your kitchen, bathroom or living spaces is frustrating, especially when they just won't go away. How do you identify and get rid of a persistent ghost ant issue?

What Do Ghost Ants Look Like?

Ghost ants are super small and multi-colored. You would think distinct, two-toned coloring would make ghost ants easier to identify, but this couldn't be further from the truth. Due to their small size and light coloring, ghost ants can actually be very difficult to spot and are easily confused with other ant pests , including sugar ants and pharaoh ants.

In the U.S., ghost ants are found primarily in Florida and are most common in the warmest, most southern areas of the state. They are also found in other areas, especially in greenhouses where more "tropical" (warm, moist) conditions are found.

Ghost ants have the following characteristics:

  • 1.3-1.5 mm in length
  • Dark brown head and thorax
  • No spines or hairs on thorax
  • Light abdomen and legs ranging from yellow-tan to cream
  • 12 antennae segments that gradually thicken toward the tip

What Is a Thorax?

Generally speaking, insects have three primary body segments: the head, thorax, and abdomen. The head is easy to find and has antennae, eyes, and jaws (mandibles). The thorax refers to the middle segment of an insect's body, and the abdomen is the rear end.


7 Ways to Get Rid of Ghost Ants

Ghost ants are a 'budding ant ', which occurs when one or more reproductive females, accompanied by many workers and young, leave the old nest in search of a new one. Ant control products available to homeowners for over-the-counter purchase are repellent products, which are agitating to ant colonies.

When budding ants detect changes in their environment, (including repellent products) this can cause the colony to fracture. The activity may die down briefly, but is likely to come back worse as new colonies bud and become established elsewhere. This will make the issue bigger and more widespread over time. Hold off on chemical applications and use a number of other control methods available to keep ghost ants outside where they belong.

As pesky as a recurring ghost ant issue is, there are a few very easy and (mostly) natural ways to get rid of them and keep them outside where they should be.

Trim Back Vegetation

Ghost ants are very deliberate and persistent trailers. They will trail up gutters or along foundations in search of food and sometimes this search will lead ghost ants inside.

To avoid giving ghost ants easy access to your home, keep the plants and vegetation around your home trimmed back. Ghost ants love to consume honeydew, a sweet, sticky substance made by a number of pests, including aphids . Honeydew is found in trees and on plants, and if these plants are touching your house, the ghost ant's hunt for food could lead them right to you.

Seek to keep a plant-free border around the foundation. This border should be anywhere from 18"-24" wide and don't forget to trim tree branches, ivy, and other plants back from the siding and roof-line as well.

Don't Bring Them In

Be careful bringing potted plants inside the home. Ghost ants have been known to nest in the soil beneath potted plants. It is easy to bring them inside by mistake without noticing.

Try to avoid bringing potted plants inside whenever possible. If it's unavoidable, make sure to inspect it thoroughly and keep an eye on things once the plant has been moved in. If you're spotting ant activity and your potted plant is the source, move the plant back outside where the ants won't become an interior bother.

Reduce Food Sources

Many species of ants, including ghost ants, love sweets. There are plenty of sweet food sources available outside, but oftentimes, ants cannot resist the sweets humans keep around.

Meticulous cleanliness is one of the most important steps in interior ant control. Sticky spills, sweet crumbs, and bits of sweets are attractants to ghost ants, so make sure these messes are cleaned up quickly.

Still seeing ants? Think outside the box. Vacuum out the couch and tidy under furniture to make sure no food messes are left uncleaned.

Address Moisture Issues

Water is life, and ghost ants need water just the same as we do. Moisture issues present a number of issues when it comes to controlling ants. Not only do leaks and condensation provide ants with water, but moisture-damaged wood can be an attractant for certain ant species—wet wood can provide a food source as well as attractive nesting conditions.

Make sure pipes are not leaking, seek to reduce condensation, and address leaky hoses to avoid causing damage and attracting ants and other pests to your home .

Seal Them Out

Whether you're dealing with ghost ants or not, this step is especially important if your home has a history of recurring interior ant issues.

'Sealing up' looks different depending on your home and the activity you're noticing, but can involve:

  • Making sure gaps or cracks around windowsills are sealed
  • Using caulking to seal holes or cracks in bathroom tiles
  • Ensuring that all window screens and door sweeps are undamaged and properly installed
  • Sealing cracks along baseboards where ants are entering

Ghost ants (and other ant species) are important to a balanced ecosystem. Sealing ants out is a great, chemical-free way to keep ants out of your home while

Use Baits, and Don't Spray

When ants start popping up inside, it's tempting to want to do something fast, but spraying is not the solution you're looking for. In fact, spraying is likely make the problem much worse if you're dealing with a budding ant like ghost ants, sugar ants, or pharaoh ants.

If you're wanting to attempt a DIY treatment, use a gel bait rather than a chemical spray. With baits, the risks are lower, and these products will not cause budding ant colonies to fracture and get bigger. If you have placed bait but ants are not feeding on it, move it to another area. Don't be afraid to experiment a little. Just make sure your experiments don't involve spraying anything.

Gel baits are sweet and are designed to attract ants. Keep this in mind when deciding where to place your bait. If you're seeing trailing ants in more visible areas such as along the bath tub or kitchen counter, follow them and seek to place bait along foraging trails in more discreet locations such as under the sink or behind the toilet. This will draw ants away from more visible spaces and allow them to feed heavily on the bait where you don't need to see them.

Call a Professional

If you believe chemical treatment may be needed to get a handle on a persistent or out-of-control ghost ant issue, it's time to call the pros. When looking for a pest control company, look for a local business that specializes in Integrated Pest Management ( IPM ).

IPM is a multi-step approach to pest control that involves proper identification of the pest and consideration of a variety of environmental factors when formulating a plan. In IPM, control measures are tailored around the specific circumstances present at each home.

Signs of Ghost Ants

Ghost ants have earned their name because their size and color make them very difficult to spot. Their trails are slow and deliberate unless they are disturbed. Trailing workers have been known to move rapidly and erratically in response to disturbances in their activity.

Ghost ants may pop up inside, but they are primarily an outdoor ant, preferring to nest in the soil in protected places around the home and yard, like:

  • Under stones
  • Beneath loose tree bark
  • Near or below protected debris

Inside, trailing ghost ants can be spotted especially in kitchens in bathrooms, around the sinks, counters and floors.

Though they prefer being outdoors, ghost ants are highly mobile and are opportunistic in their nesting habits. Finding ants inside doesn't always indicate an active nest, but if ghost ants find a protected cavity inside, they'll happily occupy it. Most commonly, this activity occurs in wall voids.

Keep an eye on the vegetation around your property. Make sure ghost ants aren't using it as a bridge (or highway) to access your house. Ghost ants are also difficult to see, so consider using a high-powered flashlight to illuminate the areas you're inspecting. Don't look too closely for active trails, but instead, just look for movement. Even in daylight, some extra light can really help ant activity stand out.

When inspecting around your home, pay special attention to the foundation and gutters. Ants are commonly found trailing in these areas.

What Causes Ghost Ants?

Ghost ants are a tropical ant thought to be Oriental or African in origin. Their spread can be credited to global shipping and commerce, and by 1995, they were named a major pest in the state of Florida.

Now considered one of the most important household pests in Florida, ghost ants have been found in other more temperate climates as well, but only in greenhouses where they can find the specific conditions they need for survival.

If ghost ants are popping up inside, this could be blamed on a number of things:

  • Exterior vegetation provides them access to the home
  • Access to food and water inside
  • A nearby (or interior) nest
  • Nesting inside potted plants that are brought inside

How to Prevent Ghost Ants

Ghost ants are persistent, highly mobile, and opportunistic when it comes to nesting. If they find a favorable spot, they'll move in quickly.

If you want to keep ghost ants away, stay away from ant sprays, as these will make your problem worse. Start by keeping the plants, trees, and other vegetation trimmed back from your home. Ghost ants prefer to be outside, but will happily trail along plants until they end up on (or in) your house.

Once vegetation is trimmed back, make sure there aren't food and water sources available for ghost ants. They especially like sweets, so sticky spills and sweet crumbs need to be thoroughly cleaned up to avoid feeding ants. If you've cleaned up but the ants are still around, place a sweet ant bait in one or more hidden areas where ants are trailing.

It is very easy to misidentify ants. While ghost ants have unique coloring that sets them apart from other species of budding ants, they are also incredibly small and light, which makes them difficult to see.

  • Pharaoh ant colonies are budding ants that live in large colonies that include many smaller nests. These colonies grow to be much bigger than ghost ant nests. Pharaoh ants and ghost ants share many similarities, including coloring and nesting behaviors which can make identification challenging. On the thorax (mid-section) of ants there are small, visible lumps called nodes. You may need a magnifying glass for an up-close look, but pharaoh ants have two nodes where ghost ants only have one.
  • Sugar ants (also called odorous house ants) are also confused for ghost ants. Both emit a distinct 'rotten coconut' odor when crushed. Sugar ants, however, are entirely dark brown to black in color. Ghost ants are bi-colored and much smaller than sugar ants.

Ghost Ant , Urban and Structural Entomology Program at Texas A&M University

Ghost Ant, University of Florida

  • A Guide to House-Invading Ants and Their Control , NC State

Pharaoh Ant , University of Florida

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Ghost Ant_TM.jpg

Ghost ants get their common name from the fact that they are very hard to see due to their pale color and tiny size. They are a tropical species, probably of African or Asian origin. In the United States, ghost ants are found primarily in central and southern Florida and Hawaii. This type of ant is unable to survive in the northern states except in greenhouses and heated spaces.

Head and thorax dark brown; abdomen and legs pale yellowish in color

Unevenly rounded; thorax lacks spines

Workers about 1/16” (1.3-1.5 mm) long

Found in many areas of the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and the Caribbean Islands

Ghost Ant Photos

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Ghost ants are highly adaptable in their nesting habits, which seem to be similar to those of pharaoh ants . Colonies of ghost ants are moderate to large in size and can contain thousands of workers and numerous functional queens distributed across multiple nesting sites.

Ghost ants are very fond of honeydew. They also feed on dead and living insects. Inside, ghost ants show a preference to sweet foods and are most commonly found in kitchens.

Outside, ghost ants make their nest in the ground. They prefer cavities and crevices in dead tree branches, but will also nest under stones, inside logs and within piles of leaves and other debris. Ghost ants will readily enter structures by trailing from nests along sidewalks, patios and foundation walls.

Inside, ghost ants typically nest in wall voids, behind baseboards, between cabinets and inside the soil of potted plants. Workers often trail under carpet edges and along electrical wires in wall voids where they are hidden from view. Because of their high moisture needs, ghost ants can also be found trailing to water sources such as sinks, shower stalls, tubs, potted plants, etc.

Ghost ants do not sting, as they lack a stinger. However, ghost ants can become a serious nuisance because they are known to nest inside homes. Similar to odorous house ants , ghost ants give off a coconut-like odor when they are crushed.

Ghost Ant Prevention

Ghost ants often enter homes by trailing along branches of trees and shrubs in direct contact with the structure. To prevent a ghost ant infestation, homeowners should keep shrubbery trimmed, ensure branches are cut back, leaf litter and debris is removed, and store firewood at least 20 feet away from the home.

A thorough inspection of the home is crucial to determine if a ghost ant infestation has developed. Indoors, homeowners should occasionally inspect sinks, toilets, and tubs for any leaks or drips. Check carpet edges and shoe moldings, and around windows and doors for trails of ants. Also, inspect electrical outlets and telephone jacks, especially in the kitchen and bathroom. Outdoors, pay attention to the area along foundation walls and sidewalks by pulling back the grass. Turn over any stones, bricks, logs, firewood or debris on the ground.

Controlling ghost ants requires time and patience. Homeowners should consider working with a licensed pest professional to employ a preventative pest management plan or treat an existing problem.

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ghost ant infestation

Ghost ants are a non-native species that have adapted well to the Southeastern U.S. They have no stingers and are so tiny that you will not feel anything when they bite. However, when these minuscule insects invade your kitchen, they become a giant nuisance.

In this quick, easy guide to ghost ants, we’ll show you:

  • How To Get Rid of Them Quickly
  • How To Prevent Them From Coming Back

How To Identify Ghost Ants

  • Signs and Causes of an Infestation

If trying to exterminate ghost ants on your own becomes too challenging, we recommend Orkin , Terminix , and Aptive . These exterminators have some of the best-trained professionals that can use traps, baits, and other chemically treated solutions that are often more effective than standard DIY methods.

For Terminix quotes, you can reach them at 866-577-5051 or with this form .

For quotes from Orkin, call 866-701-4556, or fill out this form .

For a free quote from Aptive, call 855-521-7075 or visit the company’s website .

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How To Get Rid of Ghost Ants

The majority of ant species  are not harmful to humans, especially ghost ants. However, when you spot them running across your kitchen counter, you have a right to be upset. Here, our experts take you through the steps to eliminate ghost ants from your home permanently.

1. Inspection

Due to their small size, ghost ants are challenging to spot. Despite that, you will undoubtedly notice large numbers of them crawling around on your bathroom sink.

It’s best to follow foraging ants to see where they’re entering the room. It doesn’t necessarily mean a new colony is forming, but it will give you a clue about how they’re getting in.

2. Vacuum Removal

One of the best and most economical DIY methods for ghost ant control is sucking them up  with a vacuum cleaner . Of course, it’s what the pros use to clean out roaches as well.

It’s best to use a crevice tool to get into confined areas. Also, be sure to remove the vacuum bag immediately afterward.

3. Knockdown Sprays

Permethrin sprays are excellent for knocking down foraging ants quickly. Besides spraying directly on ant trails, these insecticides are labeled for other areas as well, including:

  • Nesting sites
  • Outdoor areas
  • Bathroom areas

Still, this method only treats surface ants, and there are probably thousands more hidden in the nest somewhere.

4. Ant Baits

To ensure eradication of the entire colony, use non-repellent bait stations in these areas:

  • Food storage areas

The only downside to  using ant bait  is that it is slow acting since the ingredients in these products kill ants over a more extended period than with aerosol sprays.

Other formulations are available also. For example, bait gels work well for:

  • Pharaoh ants
  • Carpenter ants

Granular baits are best for outdoor applications since their attractants typically target mound-building species such as red imported fire ants.

5. Boric Acid Treatments

Ghost ants often break down into subcolonies that can infest certain areas of your home, including wall voids. To eradicate them from these areas, try using boric acid dust.

To apply, drill 1/8 inch holes into the wall at four-foot intervals. Then, use a bellows duster with an injector attachment to release the dust into the void.

It’s preferable to incorporate only boric acid or  diatomaceous earth for this procedure . Pyrethrin dusts should be avoided here since they stay trapped in the wall void for many years and could pose a health risk to home remodelers.

You can also use boric acid as a targeted crack and crevice treatment for several species of insects, including carpenter ants.

Getting Help With Your Ant Problem

Sometimes it’s best to hire a professional to help you get rid of ghost ants. Consulting a licensed exterminator or pest control company could make the difference between success and having to live with insects in your home.

Be sure to use only those professionals licensed, bonded, and insured in your state. Your friends, family, and neighbors can provide referrals to obtain the best ones.

Also, you can go here to see what’s available in your area.

How to Prevent Ghost Ants

Once you get rid of your ghost ant problem, it’s time to prevent them from coming back. However, it can be a daunting task due to their ability to invade in such large numbers.

Still, there are some measures you can take that will help long term.

Remove Food Sources

Ghost ants are one of the few  species of ants  that tend aphids for their honeydew production. For that reason, spraying for aphids is an excellent idea for keeping ghost ants off of your ornamental garden plants.

Inside the home, ensure all areas are clean and free from spilled food, sodas, and table sugar. Ghost ants prefer sweet substances and will forage up to 700 feet in all directions looking for them.

Exclusion Methods

Integrated management of ants  involves cutting back trees and shrubs from your home while limiting access to foraging insects. Also, be sure to move firewood piles at least 50 feet away from the house.

Decaying yard waste is a favorite nesting site for ghost ants. That being the case, removing leaf and grass mulch will help in the fight against insects.

Sealing pipe entry points with expansion foam is generally a good idea to keep out several types of pests. Unfortunately, it may not work well for ghost ants since they can slip through almost any crack.

Instead, use silicone caulking anywhere you find an opening. You may even have to utilize expansion foam first and then cover it with some type of sealant.

Perimeter Treatments

Chemical barriers may help close tiny gaps in your defense strategy. For example, wettable powders repel ants, but a residual microcap insecticide may work better long term.

If you are unsure what to use, it’s best to consult a professional. They can provide the initial treatment, or at least look at your unique situation and make recommendations.

Whatever you decide, it’s best to utilize an insect growth regulator (IGR) along with a spray concentrate. This is because it disrupts the insect’s lifecycle by killing the larvae while slowing the development of the pupae.

Crack and Crevice Treatments

Ghost ant workers tend to forage in the open, making it easy to knock them down quickly. But, on the other hand, you still have to keep them from coming into the home through cracks and crevices.

One way to do that is by applying insecticide dust to several areas, including:

  • Openings in eaves and overhangs
  • Windowsills
  • Foundation cracks

There are several products available that can be broken down into three main categories for crack and crevice applications:

  • Diatomaceous earth
  • Boric acid dust
  • Pyrethrin dust

Start with the mildest solution first. For example, use diatomaceous earth in bedroom and kitchen areas, and employ boric acid in laundry rooms and bathrooms. And finally, utilize pyrethrin dust outdoors around eves, windowsills, and foundation cracks.

Ghost ants are tiny, measuring less than a 16th of an inch, and they have a dark brown head and thorax. In addition, their legs, antennae, and abdominal area are milky white and translucent, making them difficult to see.

Ghost ants do not live underground but make their nests in unusual areas, including:

  • Clumps of dead grass
  • Under loose tree bark
  • Decomposing animal carcasses
  • Potted plants

Ghost ants  have multiple queens  that sometimes branch off into satellite colonies. However, there is rarely any infighting between each one as with other species.

Honeydew appears to be the favorite food of ghost ants. They also eat proteins and fats supplied by dead insects and plant-derived oils.

Just like the odorous house ant, the ghost ant gives off a distinct smell when crushed. The pungent odor is often described as the scent of rotten coconuts.

Signs & Causes of a Ghost Ant Infestation

ghost ant infestation

Ghost ants are attracted to the honeydew produced by aphids. For that reason, you’ll notice them herding and tending these little green creatures on rose bushes and other plants.

You can also find ghost ants in these areas:

  • Underneath boards and rocks
  • Tree trunks, beneath the bark
  • Ornamental plants
  • Heated greenhouses
  • Kitchen and bathroom areas

When ghost ant colonies are disturbed, the workers go into a frenzy. But normally, they forage in a calm, orderly manner.

Florida and Hawaii have the highest percentage of ghost ants in the U.S. What’s surprising is that you can also find them in heated greenhouses as far north as Maine.

Signs & causes of a ghost ant infestation

Ghost ants are attracted to the honeydew produced by aphids. For that reason, you’ll notice them herding and tending these little green creatures on rose bushes and other plants.

Final Thoughts on How To Get Rid of Ghost Ants

Despite their tiny size, ghost ants present a challenge for homeowners living in warm, tropical regions of the U.S. Unfortunately, these non-native invaders are making their way further north as well. For that reason, it’s good to keep a watchful eye out for them.

Still, ant control in your home doesn’t have to become a major headache. With the right information from our pest control experts and a bit of persistence, you can get rid of those miniature crawling pests once and for all.

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Tampinoma melanocephalum

Ghost ants are known as "ghosts" because when they run around on light surfaces, their transparent abdomens and legs seem to vanish, leaving only a dark head and thorax visible. On darker surfaces, all you see are pale patches moving about. When ghost ants are crushed, they emit the scent of coconut.

Ghost Ants

Ghost Ant Habits

These ants can develop very large colonies, with many queens. Colonies can divide or split through a budding process similar to pharaoh ants and white-footed ants. Ghost ants readily enter buildings, usually by trailing from nests along guidelines, such as foundations or tree branches. Ghost ants will enter structures from ground to roof levels. Workers run rapidly and erratically, trailing along edges and corners. Indoor trails are hidden, under carpet edges and along electrical wires in wall voids. Because ghost ants need moisture, they often trail to sinks, washbasins, commodes and shower stalls. Outdoor trails can be found behind grass or mulch lining sidewalks, patios and foundation walls.

What do Ghost Ants Eat?

Ghost ants are partial to sweet foods, particularly aphids and honeydew. The workers go out and gather food, including insects, to bring back and feed the colony. Indoors, ghost ants will eat sweet foods, but they prefer greasy food if it is available.

What Are Ghost Ants Attracted To?

These ants are attracted to moisture, warmth and sweet and greasy foods.

Do Ghost Ants Bite?

Ghost ants cannot sting, but they can bite. However, they are nonaggressive and will only bite if their nest is threatened. These bites are barely noticeable and they do not pose any health threats to humans. The only threat ghost ants pose is the potential to contaminate food.

Preventing a Ghost Ant Infestation

Ghost ants enter the home through cracks and gaps in the foundation. Eliminating these gaps can halt their entry. Remove any tree branches that touch the house and move moisture sources as far from your home as possible.

Signs You Have a Ghost Ant Infestation

Ghost ants can be spotted indoors in flowerpots or other moist areas. However, the most common way to spot an infestation is simply seeing the ants around your home.

How To Eliminate a Ghost Ant Infestation

For outdoor infestations, spray any ant mound you see with insecticides. Inside your home, using sprays can split the colony and make the infestation worse. Protein baits are most effective for ghost ant removal.

For a complete ghost ant treatment and removal plan, contact our team using the form below.

After you submit the information below, a trained professional in your area will get in touch within 1-2 business days to set up a date & time that is convenient for you.

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Please be sure to read the product label of any insecticide you choose to use to get information on the personal protective safety gear you will need. In most situations, it is recommended that you wear long pants, a long sleeved shirt, closed toe shoes with socks, chemical resistant gloves, and goggles. In areas where ventilation is poor, a manufacturer may recommend you wear a mask or a respirator. We have put together two different safety kits that will make selecting the correct safety gear easier for you.

Ghost Ant Treatment

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Advion Ant Bait Gel

Ghost Ant Control Before implementing the following steps, please verify the ant species by reading our Ghost Ants: Identification & Biology page

Keep Them Out! It is easy for ghost ants and other small insects to gain access to homes and buildings through tiny cracks or gaps in the foundation (most often around doors and windows.) These areas should be thoroughly inspected and potential entry points sealed up by caulk or other exclusion material.

Step 1) Inspection In order to treat a ghost ant infestation properly, you must first inspect the property thoroughly inside and out for mounds or other potential nesting sites.

Ghost Ant/ outdoor nesting sites: soil, hollowed trees, under firewood, rocks, and other piles of material or debris.

Ghost Ant/ indoor nesting sites: in walls and voids, and seen around moisture sources like sinks, pipes, or potted plants.

Step 2) Treat Outdoor Ant Mounds Outdoor mounds can be eliminating by drenching the mound with Cyper TC insecticide, using a gallon sprayer . Drenching simply means applying enough of the liquid insecticide to drown all ants in the nest and surrounding area. Always read the product label for specific directions on mound treatments. Pets and children should be kept away from the treated area until the solution has dried.

Step 3) Spray Outdoor Perimeter Spray a good barrier around the home using Talstar or Cyper TC and a one gallon sprayer. This will help prevent entry. A fan spray that is at least 3 feet high on the side of the building and 3 to 6 feet out on the ground will provide excellent protection.

Step 4) Indoors: Wait, don't spray!-Better to Bait With Ghost ants, the use of residual sprays indoors will only cause stress on the colony, causing it to split into a larger number of sub-colonies. This will actually worsen the infestation.

Baiting indoors is preferred and a far mare effective method of control than spraying or dusting. Try a slow-acting bait labeled specifically for Ghost Ant control. Protein baits seem to be the most accepted by Ghost Ants, but they will sometimes switch over to a sweet-feeding cycle for a time. To judge whether a bait is effective, simply monitor whether the placement is being visited or decreasing in size. If not, switch to a different bait until you find one that is readily accepted.

Recommended protein baits for Ghost Ants

  • Maxforce Ant Bait Stations - Maxforce Ant Bait Stations start to kill ants in just six hours, and tests show 90% population reductions in just four days.
  • Maxforce Ant Bait Granular - Maxforce Insect bait offers a combination ingredients which satisfy the insects' changing tastes and nutritional needs.

Recommended sweet baits for Ghost Ants

  • Gourmet Ant Bait Gel - Uses a special insect attractant that mimics honeydew and enhances bait acceptance by a variety of Protein Feeding Ants, Sweet Feeding Ants, and roaches.
  • Maxforce Ant Bait Gel - Effective against Argentine, Odorous House, Ghost, Pavement, and Little Black Ants.
  • Advance Liquid Ant Bait - A balanced formulation of sugar and water that ants need and desire. The bait will kill the entire colony.

Step 5) Dust Treatments: Dust underneath baseboards, and inside cracks, crevices, and voids where activity is suspected, including all areas that cannot be sprayed with Delta Dust Insecticide . It is important to use Delta Dust because of its waterproof property. This is easy to apply using a professional Hand Duster .

Additional Methods for Ant Prevention & Control After you have applied the appropriate pesticide chemicals, these additional non chemical methods will help you to maintain control and prevent future ant infestations:

  • Practice good sanitation.
  • Limit food preparation and consumption to one or two areas of the home that are cleaned daily.
  • Eliminate gaps and cracks in the foundation, baseboards, window frames, and door frames with caulk or other appropriate material to eliminate ant entryways.
  • Materials such as stacked or piled lumber, stones, bricks, leaf litter, heavy mulch, and other debris that serve as potential ant harborages should be removed as far from the structure as possible.
  • Trim the branches of trees, shrubs, and other vegetation that may serve as ant highways so they do not touch the structure.
  • Repair leaky pipes and faucets.

All Ant Control products  

Ant Baits   Ant Kits

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How To Prevent A Ghost Ant Infestation

Gulshan Banu

Ghost ants, also known as sugar ants, are a common household pest that can be difficult to control once they infest your home. These tiny ants get their name from their translucent appearance and their habit of quickly disappearing when disturbed. They are attracted to sweet foods and moisture, which makes them particularly troublesome in kitchens and bathrooms.

Ghost ant infestations can result in significant damage to food supplies, property, and health if not dealt with promptly. Preventing a ghost ant infestation is essential for maintaining a healthy and safe home environment.

There are several measures you can take to keep these pests at bay. These include keeping your home clean, sealing up any cracks and crevices where they may enter, trimming trees and shrubs near your house, fixing leaks and moisture problems, setting traps, calling in professional pest control services if necessary, regularly checking for signs of infestation , and staying vigilant.

By following these guidelines carefully and consistently throughout the year, you can significantly reduce the risk of ghost ant infestations in your home.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

– Clean and maintain a hygienic household to prevent ghost ants from being attracted to sweet foods and moisture. – Seal all cracks, crevices, and entry points to prevent ants from entering the home . – Use natural repellents such as essential oils, vinegar, and borax to deter ghost ants. – Monitor the home for signs of infestation and take swift action to prevent a full-blown infestation.

Learn About Ghost Ants

Ghost ants , also known as Tapinoma melanocephalum, are small and pale ants with an almost translucent appearance that can easily blend into their surroundings. These ants are typically found in tropical and subtropical regions around the world, including the United States.

Identifying ghost ants can be difficult due to their small size and coloration, but they are commonly identified by their behavior . Ghost ants prefer sweet foods and will often be seen trailing along counters or floors in search of crumbs or spills.

Understanding ghost ant behavior is important in preventing infestations. Ghost ants have a preference for warm and humid environments, making kitchens and bathrooms ideal locations for them to thrive. They also have a tendency to nest in hidden areas such as wall voids or behind baseboards.

By keeping your home clean, you can reduce the likelihood of attracting ghost ants into your living space.

Keep Your Home Clean

Ironically, maintaining a consistently tidy living space can prove beneficial in deterring the presence of those unwanted six-legged guests. Ghost ants are attracted to food sources and crumbs left behind in the home, so it is important to clean up spills and messes immediately.

Regularly vacuuming carpets, sweeping floors, and wiping down surfaces with disinfectant cleaners can help keep ghost ants at bay.

In addition to cleaning tips, household hygiene plays a crucial role in preventing ghost ant infestations. Make sure all trash cans have tightly sealed lids and are emptied regularly. Keep food stored in airtight containers or in the refrigerator to eliminate potential feeding grounds for these pests.

By maintaining a clean and hygienic environment within your home, you greatly reduce the likelihood of attracting ghost ants into your space. Transitioning into the subsequent section about sealing up any cracks and crevices will further fortify your defense against these pesky intruders.

Seal Up Any Cracks and Crevices

Maintaining a structurally sound and well-sealed living space is crucial in reducing the likelihood of unwanted insect intrusions. Ghost ants, like many other pests, can gain access to your home through the smallest cracks and crevices. Therefore, sealing up any openings around doors, windows, pipes, or electrical outlets is essential in preventing ghost ant infestations .

Here are some sealing techniques and DIY solutions to keep these tiny insects out of your home:

– Use caulk to fill gaps around doors and windows – Apply weather stripping to seal gaps between doors and their frames – Install door sweeps at the bottom of exterior doors – Seal cracks in walls with expanding foam insulation

By following these steps, you can prevent ghost ants from entering your living space through small openings.

To complement these efforts further, trimming trees and shrubs around your property also plays an important role in keeping ghost ants away. By cutting back branches that touch your house or roofline, you eliminate any potential bridges for the ants to use as they seek entry into your home .

Trim Trees and Shrubs

Trimming trees and shrubs around your property not only enhances its aesthetic appeal, but also serves as a barrier to prevent ghost ants from accessing your home . Ghost ants typically nest in soil beneath trees and shrubs, using the vegetation as a pathway to enter buildings. Pruning techniques that remove branches touching or overhanging roofs and walls can help eliminate these pathways, reducing the likelihood of an infestation.

In addition to pruning techniques, landscaping tips can also be useful in preventing ghost ant infestations . For instance, planting vegetation away from the foundation of your home can reduce the chances of ghost ants finding their way inside. Additionally, removing any dead wood or debris near your home eliminates potential nesting sites for ghost ants. By following these landscaping tips along with proper pruning techniques, you can effectively minimize the risks associated with a ghost ant infestation. To further protect your home from pest invasions, it is essential to fix leaks and moisture problems which will be discussed in the next section.

Fix Leaks and Moisture Problems

This section will discuss how to fix leaks and moisture problems in order to prevent a ghost ant infestation.

Repairing any leaks or drips in your home is crucial, as standing water can attract ants and other pests.

Additionally, reducing humidity levels through proper ventilation and dehumidification can make your home less hospitable to these insects.

By implementing these measures, you can minimize the potential for ghost ant infestations in your living spaces.

Repair Any Leaks and Drips

Fixing any sources of moisture is crucial in preventing ghost ant infestations, as these ants are attracted to damp areas and water leaks. Common causes of leaks include malfunctioning pipes, damaged roofs, and poorly sealed windows. Addressing these issues promptly can prevent the buildup of moisture that attracts ghost ants . Here are some prevention methods :

1. Regularly inspect your home for any signs of leaks or drips.

2. Repair any broken or leaking pipes immediately.

3. Replace damaged roof shingles or tiles as soon as possible.

4. Ensure that all windows and doors are properly sealed.

Aside from attracting ghost ants, excessive moisture can also negatively impact household appliances such as air conditioners and refrigerators by causing them to work harder than necessary to maintain a comfortable temperature. By fixing leaks and drips, you not only prevent an ant infestation but also improve the longevity of your appliances.

To reduce humidity in your home…

Reduce Humidity in Your Home

One effective way to control the presence of moisture and maintain a healthy indoor environment is by regulating humidity levels through proper ventilation, dehumidification, or temperature control. High levels of humidity can lead to mold growth, which provides an ideal breeding ground for ghost ants .

To reduce the amount of moisture in your home, consider investing in a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers work by extracting excess water from the air and collecting it in a reservoir or draining it directly outside.

If you prefer DIY dehumidifying methods, there are several options available. First, make sure that your home is well-ventilated by opening windows and using exhaust fans in areas prone to moisture buildup such as bathrooms and kitchens. You can also try placing bowls filled with rock salt around your home as salt naturally absorbs moisture from the air.

By controlling humidity levels in your home, you can significantly reduce the chances of a ghost ant infestation.

Reducing humidity is just one step towards preventing ghost ant infestations; another effective method is using natural repellents .

Use Natural Repellents

Natural repellents can be an effective way to ward off ghost ants . Essential oils, such as peppermint and tea tree oil, are known for their ant-repelling properties.

Vinegar is another option that works by disrupting the ants’ pheromone trails and causing confusion in their communication.

Borax, a natural mineral often used in cleaning products, can also be mixed with sugar and water to create a solution that attracts and kills ghost ants.

Consider using these natural repellents as part of your overall pest management strategy to keep your home free from ghost ants.

Use Essential Oils

Utilizing essential oils can be an effective method for preventing a ghost ant infestation in your home. Essential oil blends and DIY essential oil sprays are natural repellents that can deter ants from entering your living space. These oils work by releasing a strong scent that interferes with the ants’ ability to detect food sources, causing them to seek out other locations.

There are a variety of essential oils that you can use to prevent ghost ant infestations, including peppermint, clove, eucalyptus, and tea tree oil. Peppermint oil is particularly effective due to its strong odor and ability to disrupt the ants’ neurological receptors. Clove oil contains eugenol, which has been shown to repel ants and other insects. Eucalyptus oil has antimicrobial properties that also make it useful as an insect repellent while tea tree oil is known for its antibacterial properties. Using these essential oils in combination or individually in DIY sprays can be an eco-friendly and affordable way to keep your home free of ghost ants.

In addition to using essential oils, another natural method for preventing ghost ant infestations is through the use of vinegar. By understanding how vinegar works as an insecticide and incorporating it into your regular cleaning routine alongside the use of essential oils, you can effectively keep your home free from these pesky pests without relying on harmful chemicals or pesticides.

Use Vinegar

Vinegar has been proven to be an effective household cleaning agent, with studies showing that it can kill up to 82% of mold species. Due to its acidic nature, vinegar is also a natural ant repellent that can help prevent ghost ant infestations.

In addition to being an eco-friendly alternative to harsh chemicals, using vinegar for cleaning has several benefits. It is inexpensive and readily available in most households, making it a convenient solution for daily cleaning tasks.

For those who want to use vinegar as an ant repellent, there are DIY recipes that can be easily made at home. One recipe involves mixing equal parts of water and white vinegar in a spray bottle and spraying the solution directly onto areas where ants are present. Another option is adding a few drops of essential oils such as peppermint or tea tree oil with white vinegar and water mixture before spraying it on affected areas. Using these methods regularly can discourage ants from entering your home.

Using borax is another effective way to prevent ghost ant infestations in your home. By disrupting their digestive system, borax effectively eliminates the entire colony over time without causing any harm or toxicity concerns for humans or pets.

Borax is an effective and safe solution for eliminating ants in your home. Borax works by interfering with the ant’s digestive system, leading to dehydration and death. To use borax as an ant killer, mix equal parts of borax and sugar and place it near ant trails or areas where you have seen their activity. The sugar will attract the ants while the borax will kill them. However, it is essential to be careful when using borax as it can also be harmful to humans and pets if ingested.

If you prefer not to use borax, there are other natural alternatives that are just as effective in getting rid of ants. For example, diatomaceous earth is a non-toxic powder made from crushed fossils of aquatic organisms that dehydrates insects upon contact, including ants. Additionally, essential oils such as peppermint or lemon oil can deter ants due to their strong fragrance.

Regardless of which method you choose, always take safety precautions when dealing with any pest control method in your home.

To set traps for ants effectively, consider placing them along ant trails or near areas where they frequently appear. You should also make sure that the bait is fresh and has not dried out or become moldy over time.

By following these steps and taking necessary precautions when dealing with pest control methods like borax or alternative solutions such as diatomaceous earth or essential oils, you can prevent ghost ant infestations from taking hold in your home for good!

Deploying various types of traps is a wise course of action to prevent ghost ant infestations . Ghost ants are known for their elusive nature and small size, making them difficult to detect and eliminate. Using traps can be an effective way to control these pests and prevent the need for more drastic measures. There are several types of traps available on the market, each with its own unique features and benefits.

The table below outlines some of the most common types of traps used for ghost ants, along with the best bait options for each trap. By using this table as a guide, homeowners can make informed decisions about which traps to use in their homes and how to effectively bait them.

By setting up these different types of traps around your home, you can effectively combat ghost ant infestations without resorting to harsh chemicals or other invasive methods. However, if your infestation persists despite your efforts, it may be time to call in a professional pest control service who can provide additional support in eliminating these pesky pests from your home.

Call in a Professional

Hiring a professional pest control service can be an effective solution for homeowners who have exhausted their efforts in controlling the spread of these elusive pests. Compared to DIY methods, professionals are well-equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge in dealing with different types of ant infestations , including ghost ants. They use specialized equipment that is not always available to homeowners, making their methods more efficient in eradicating these pests.

While hiring a professional may seem expensive at first glance, it is actually cost-effective in the long run. A professional’s expertise ensures that the problem is dealt with completely and effectively. Additionally, they offer follow-up visits to ensure that any remaining issues are resolved before they become worse. In contrast, DIY methods may only provide temporary relief and could lead to additional expenses if not done correctly.

Regularly checking for signs of infestation can help prevent future ghost ant infestations. By being proactive and taking action immediately upon discovering any indications of an infestation, you can avoid having to deal with a full-blown problem later on.

Regularly Check for Signs of Infestation

Regular inspection and observation of your home’s environment can aid in detecting any unwanted visitors that may cause harm to the household, including ghost ants. Common signs of infestation include seeing the tiny ants themselves moving along walls or floors, finding trails of ant activity leading to food sources, and discovering small piles of debris near baseboards or corners. Additionally, ghost ants have a sweet tooth and are often drawn to sugary substances, so be on the lookout for any unexplained sugar spills or crumbs.

Prevention methods for ghost ant infestations include: – Keeping all surfaces clean and free of food particles – Regularly checking pantries and cupboards for spillage or contamination – Sealing off all entry points into your home (including cracks in walls) – Removing any standing water around your property

By following these steps, you can greatly reduce the chances of a ghost ant invasion . However, it is important to stay vigilant even after taking preventive measures as these pests can quickly multiply if left unchecked.

Stay Vigilant

To prevent a ghost ant infestation, it is crucial to stay vigilant and monitor your home regularly.

Keep an eye out for any signs of ants, such as trails or individual insects.

If you do spot ants in your home , take immediate action to eliminate them before they have the chance to establish a colony and create a larger problem.

By remaining attentive and proactive, you can effectively prevent ghost ant infestations from taking hold in your living space.

Monitor Your Home Regularly

Frequently inspecting potential entry points into your home can aid in identifying and addressing potential areas of vulnerability for a ghost ant infestation. Regular inspection of windows, doors, pipes, and cracks in walls can help prevent ants from entering your home . It is important to address any issues found during inspections immediately to ensure early intervention.

When conducting regular inspections, it is essential to pay attention to any signs of an infestation, such as the presence of ants or ant trails. If you spot ants in your home , take action immediately by locating their entry point and sealing it off with caulk or other sealants. This will prevent more ants from entering your home while you work on eliminating the ones that are already present.

Take Action Immediately When You Spot Ants

Continuing from the previous subtopic, it is essential to keep an eye on your home to monitor for any signs of a ghost ant infestation. However, it is equally crucial to take quick action as soon as you spot ants in your house . Delaying or ignoring the problem can lead to a full-blown infestation that will be harder and more expensive to eradicate.

Ants are social insects that follow specific behavior patterns when searching for food and water sources. They leave scent trails that lead other ants back to the same location where they found food or water. This means that if you see one or two ants crawling around your kitchen or bathroom , there may be many more hiding out of sight.

To prevent an infestation, here are some ant prevention techniques:

– Keep all food stored in sealed containers – Clean up spills and crumbs immediately – Repair any leaks or standing water sources – Seal any cracks or gaps in walls and windows – Use natural deterrents such as vinegar or peppermint oil

By following these prevention techniques and taking swift action when spotting ants in your home, you can avoid a ghost ant infestation and keep your living space free of pests.

A biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher. I have been one of those people who used to run away from cockroaches and rats due to their pesky features, but then we all get that turn in life when we have to face something.

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ghost ant infestation

How To Get Rid of Ghost Ants

If you have an active infestation of Ghost Ants, follow this guideline for pro control tips to get rid of and kill Ghost Ants.

How To Get Rid of Ghost Ants

Ghost Ant Control Pro Tips

Ghost Ant Nests and Diet

Ghost Ants look like tiny, white apparitions who suddenly appear and seem to disappear just as quickly. They are found both inside and outside. They may be found in kitchens and bathrooms as they are seeking moisture.

Workers are 1/16 inch/1.5 mm in length. The legs, pedicel, gaster, and antennae are pale, almost translucent, in color. The head and thorax are darker in color. For this reason, the Ghost Ant is also known in some areas as the Black-Headed Ant.

Many people confuse Pharoah ants the Ghost ants. However the Pharoah ant has 2 nodes on the pedicel. Ghost ants and "Florida Ghost ants" are the same

Both Ghost ants and Odorous house ants are very small ants. The Ghost ant has a white, translucent abdomen, while the Odorous House Ant is brown to black all over.

The Ghost Ant is similar to the Odorous House Ant, but the Odorous House Ant is brown or black. Both the Ghost ant and Odorous ant smell like rotten coconuts when they are crushed.

  • 1- Node Ants : Black Carpenter Ants, Red Carpenter Ants, Field Ants, Small (False Honey Ants), Large Yellow Ants, Odorous House Ants
  • 2-Node Ants :Thief Ants, Pharaoh Ants, Little Black Ants, Acrobat Ants, Pavement Ants, Big-Headed Ants

*These pdfs are courtesy of Univ of Nebraska, Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County

Ant Trails and Inspection

  • Look for their trails and nests, both inside and outside. If you have an inside nest, the best control method is to bait. Typical sprays will scatter the colonies.
  • Outside Nesting Locations: Generally speaking, these ants like to nest outside under lumber, firewood piles, mulch, rocks, loose bark of trees. These are places of decaying organic matter.
  • Inside Nesting Locations: If they are already inside, establishing a nest, look for void or in-wall areas around moisture sources such as pipes, shower stalls, and sinks. Also, check potted plants.
  • You can find an excellent article by the University of Florida Extension Service can be found at Ant Trails: Baiting . It gives an overview of management with baits. They can enter homes by the foundation or from trees/plants that contact the building.

Ghost Ant

Identify and Inspect Ghost Ants

How to get rid of ghost ants, non-repellent insecticides ( ants will not avoid treated areas )..

Phantom Aerosol

Phantom Aerosol-Inside Use

Navigator SC

Navigator SC-Outside Use Only

Navigator SC 20 oz yields 25 gallons, and the 78 oz yields 100 gallons. Mix Navigator SC at 0.8 oz per gallon of water and spray a low volume spray up to 18 inches out and 18 inches up the perimeter of your home as a banded spray. Spray around windows, doors, pipes, vents, foundation, foundation cracks, drilled holes, or any exterior openings where the ants may enter the home. Treat where wires (cable, telephone, electrical) enter the house.

Non-Repellent Ant Kit

Non Repellent Ant Kit

Use the Non-Repellent Ant Kit to treat ants inside and outside with the non-repellent insecticides, Navigator SC and Phantom Aerosol II Aerosol. Using a pest control method with non-repellent insecticides for ant control is superior over repellent insecticides because the ants can not detect its presence. If ants can detect an insecticide, they will choose to go around it and enter the structure in another manner. With non-repellent insecticides, the ants go thru the chemicals without avoiding it. As the ants go thru the Navigator SC and Phantom Aerosol II , the foraging ants are covered with the insecticide, taking it back to the nest to share with other ants.

Recommended Insecticides

Non-Repellents Outside: Unless you use an outside non-repellent spray, such as Navigator SC , baiting is the preferred ant control treatment. This non-repellent spray is non-detectable by ants, so they do not avoid them as typical sprays.

Typical insecticide sprays (repellent sprays) will only scatter the colonies, making the ant infestation larger. Non-repellent sprays kill the ants by contact and by transfer. The foraging ants track the insecticide back to the nest. They transfer the insecticide in the grooming process (themselves and each other).

Non-Repellent Inside: If you decide to spray inside, use a non-repellent spray called Phantom Aerosol II Aerosol . Apply these aerosols, with crack and crevice tips applied in tiny cracks and crevices.

Treating the nest Directly: If you can locate the nest outside. You can use a drench method of treating each nest. It would help if you got enough volume of finished solution to reach the entire colony. We suggest Bifen IT. Mix it 0.5 oz per gallon of water and use 1-2 gallons per mound area. Water down the area and pour the finish solution around a 4 ft diameter circle. Bifen IT is not a non-repellent insecticide.

Bifen IT Insecticide

Bifen IT with Bifenthrin 7.9% is a flowable multi-purpose insecticide. Bifen IT has a long residual control with a product label of over 75 insects. This broad label on Bifen IT includes turf and ornamental applications, food handling applications, indoor and outdoor applications, and termite treatments. Bifen IT is a synthetic pyrethroid and a low odor chemical.

Advance 375A Ant Bait is a ready-to-use product for use in controlling Carpenter Ants, Fire Ants, Pharoah Ants, Odorous Ants, House Ants and other ants both indoors and outdoors. It is used for protein/grease feeding cycles; granulated 8 oz and 2 lb containers.

Advion Ant Bait Arena by Syngenta, uses the same active ingredient indoxacarb, as Advion Ant Bait Gel. Indoxacarb is a slow-acting poison that allows enough time for foraging ants to go back to their ant nests and contaminate other colony ants including larvae and queens. This would destroy the whole colony.

Advion Ant Bait Gel is a highly attractive for Ghost Ants, seeking moisture or sweets. This bait has a delayed action kill, and it exposes the entire colony to the bait. It retains its integrity over a while.

Use Optigard Ant Bait Gel for sugar feeding cycles excludes Fire, Harvester, and Pharaoh ants. The powerful, slow-acting non-repellent active ingredient, thiamethoxam in Optigard Ant Gel knocks out workers, brood, and queens.

Advion Ant Bait Kit combines Advion Ant Bait Gel and Advion Ant Bait Arena for a choice of both sweet-based and protein-based ant baits.

Why Ant Bait ?

  • The use of repellent residual sprays or dust stresses ant colonies, causing them to split into sub-colonies and scatter. This scattering (also called budding ) multiplies the number of ant colonies; multiplies your ant problem.
  • If you use a non-repellent insecticide, this budding will not occur.
  • Baiting is the most reliable way to eliminate the entire colony instead of spraying with a typical repellent residual spray. When choosing ant baits, it is best to choose from both sugar-based baits and protein/grease-based baits.
  • When you bait, use a slow-acting bait. Quick-kill insecticides and baits will only kill the foraging ants, not allowing those worker ants to take the bait back home to feed the queen, nest workers, and brood.
  • If the ant bait you are currently using is not sufficient (if the ants are not visiting the bait), you will need to change the bait.
  • Slow-acting baits provide a variety of the foods the ants find in nature. Examples are other insects (proteins/grease-based baits), nectar, aphid honeydew, and plant products (sugar and carbohydrates found in sweet-based baits). Choosing a bait
  • requires an understanding of the nutritional needs of the colony. To be sure that you have all the baiting needs met, you may want to be ready with a sugar/carbohydrate-based bait, a grease/fat-based bait, and a protein-based bait.
  • Ghost Ants tend to forage in a random pattern, so that feeding trails may be more challenging to recognize. These Ants have a high need for water and maybe commonly found in or around kitchens, baths, or other moisture sources.

Recommended Ant Baits (Sweet and Protein/Grease Feeding Cycles)

Prevent ghost ants.

Trimming Hedge Prevent Ants

Look for ant trails leading into your home. If there is a crack or hole, seal them. Using caulk, seal as many gaps, holes, or cracks on your home's exterior as possible.

Ghost ants like to nest under a moist decaying organic matter. Remove branches, logs, and leaves.

Since Ghost ants can be under stones and brick, remove them as far away from the house if possible.

Ghost ants will use shrub or tree branches touching your house as highways. Cutaway any shrub or tree branch that is in those locations.

Eliminate moisture. Make sure any water hose/sprinkler does not spray directly to the foundation. Repair any leaky faucet or pipes.

Ghost Ant Control-Pro Tips

  • If your ants are nesting outside but coming inside to forage for food, spray a non-repellent liquid residual insecticide like Taurus SC around the perimeter of your house and entry points.
  • If they are already nesting inside, use both a sweet-based ant bait like Optigard Ant Bait Gel or Advion Ant Bait Gel and a protein-based bait like Advion Ant Bait Arena or Advance 375A Ant Bait. These baits will mimic their natural hunt for sugary sources like honeydew or protein sources like dead insects.
  • If you wish to spray inside, use a non-repellent aerosol like Spectre PS in any wall voids where they may be nesting. This spray will not contaminate any bait choices.

Reproduction and Nesting

Ghost Ant colonies tend to be moderate-to-large in size with multiple queens. New colonies are started by budding. One or more reproductive females, several workers, and possibly some brood (larvae and pupae) migrate to a new nesting site. Their biology is similar to the Pharaoh Ant. They are very flexible and adaptable to nesting locations. Outside, they may be located under bark, bases of plant pots, under tufts of grass. Inside, they may be found in spaces between baseboards or cabinetry. There may be several subunits of Ghost Ant colonies, with multiple queens.

Diet and Distribution

Ghost Ants will commonly eat both sweets and grease/ protein sources. They readily eat honeydew, honeydew-excreting insects, both alive and dead. They are a tropical ant but can be found in greenhouses in the northern states.

Written by our resident pest control expert Ken Martin .

Various Ants That Invade Homes and Businesses

Argentine Ants

Argentine Ants

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter Ants

Crazy Ants

Leaf Cutter Ants

 Odorous Ants

Odorous Ants

Pavement Ants

Pavement Ants

Pharaoh Ant

Pharaoh Ants

ghost ant infestation

Ghost Ant Infestation

ghost ant infestation

Ghost Ant Infestations

A sighting of small ghost ant workers is the usual sign of their presence. New colonies often are formed when a queen and a contingent of workers separating from the main colony to form a new colony elsewhere. This can happen multiple times, depending on the number of queens.

When ghost ants make nests indoors, it is usually in flowerpots, behind baseboards and inside wall voids. The colony may split into several nests. It is normal to find ghost ants trailing between multiple nesting sites.

Outdoors, ghost ants make their nest in the ground. They often nest beside stones, logs and firewood piles. They enter buildings on trails that they make along the ground. They also enter houses by trailing on utility lines or by following limbs of trees and shrubs that touch the house.

Ghost Ant Photos

ghost ant infestation

4 Seasons Pest Control Options & Pricing


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September 3, 2020 By Dan Crosfield

Ghost Ants – What they look like, How you get them & How to get rid of them.

Tapinoma melanocephalum

Facts, identification & control.

The native range of the Ghost ant species is unknown. It is rampant in warm dwellings in the lowland tropics. Wherever you are, if you have sugar present. you will commonly see worker ants of this species. In biodiversity surveys, ghost ants are often found in the data analysis because they contaminate most of the samples in the laboratory where the process happens.

Ghost ants are mostly found in residential buildings, but they can move out into the surrounding vegetated areas, nesting opportunistically in small plant cavities. They readily relocate their nests and in one night can move into a shoe box, umbrella or a basket left outside the house.

ghost ant infestation

Identification & Characteristics

  • Other Names: Tramp Ant
  • Odor: Rotten Coconut (when crushed)
  • Color: Bi-colored, brown head, pale yellowish trunk with variable brown patches. Opaque to milky white legs
  • Size: 0.05 to 0.08 inches
  • Antennae: Yes, with 12 segments
  • Shape: Laterally compressed antero-medial body, absent stingers, stalk-like structure on the abdomen towards the trunk.

Ghost ants were once known as “tramp ants”, widely distributed in tropical and subtropical regions around the world. Their dark brown head and thorax often look like hovering specks, unrecognizable as ants. The barely visible “ghostly” appearance of these ants explains its common name.

ghost ant infestation

Ghost ants are highly adaptable in their nesting habits. Colonies are moderate to large in sizes with several reproducing female ants. These ants commonly occupy local areas that are small or unstable to support entire large colonies outdoors , such as:

  • Tufts of dead, moist grass
  • Plant stems
  • Cavities beneath detritus in open
  • Potted plants
  • Under loose bark
  • Bases of palm fronds

Indoors , they mostly stay in places like:

  • Wall voids or gaps
  • Potted indoor plants
  • Foundation cracks
  • Spaces between books

In the United States, the ghost ant is commonly found is Florida and Hawaii. Its range is expanding. They have now reached some parts of Texas.

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ghost ant infestation

Ghost ants are highly adaptable in their habits when nesting. They thrive indoors and outdoors. Their colonies have multiple reproducing female ants and their colonies can range from medium to large sizes. They are opportunistic nesters, they nest in an area for a few days or weeks and then they start looking another place.

Multiple female reproductive ants spread out in different sub colonies. They are very attracted to the indoors and they build their colonies by means of budding. Budding is when one or more female ants, accompanied by several workers and some brood (larva and pupae) leave an established nest or colony to find a new nesting site. Fighting between members of different colonies or nests is not common.

The worker ants have a mannerism of running erratically when disturbed. They like honeydew and they tend to honeydew-excreting insects. They feed on dead and live insects, including some species of ants. Movement of worker ants are slow and deliberate. They will get into structures from their nests near foundations or from plants near the building.

ghost ant infestation


Ghost ants have a polygene and unicolonial colonies . Unicolonial colonies have separate but cooperatively interacting nests. Their nests can build up large numbers. Individual nests may have 100 to 10000 ants and will have multiple reproductive female ants. New colonies are formed by the migration of one or more female reproductive ants accompanied by several workers. They have not been reported to have nuptial fights like the other ant species. No fighting between nest members or colony members were reported or observed based on studies, at least those from within the same area.

Ghost ants have four larval stages from the hatching of eggs to the adult stage . The worker ants development from egg to adult lasts 16 to 52 days. Its embryonic stage is longer than the larval, prepupal or pupal stages. One female queen can produce 5.3 eggs per day and is relatively slow compared to other ant species. None the less, because of the multiple reproductive female ants in a colony, the colonies are able to grow substantially.

ghost ant infestation

Ghost ants post a social impact through their association with food supplies. Based from different studies, these ants have been reported as a significant urban pest capable of infesting residential kitchens, commercial food chains etc, in large numbers. They can get into buildings and other structures though small openings, cracks and crevices. It has been established that this is one of the most common ant species infesting houses. There are no reports about structural damages or wiring, but it’s been considered as the most important house-infesting pests. Complaints were mostly due to it being a general nuisance or infesting food.

The health impacts of ghost ants vary. Some reports are about people suffering from mild irritation of the skin following contact with the ant. They may also have some contribution to disease transmission. They are prevalent in hospitals in South America and are capable in transporting pathogenic microbes such as Enterobacter cloacae and Staphylococcus.

ghost ant infestation

Signs of a Ghost Ant Infestation

When you put a teaspoon of sugar, you can judge the level of contamination by how many worker ants are floating on the surface of your drink! These ants have a peculiar color and marking and is small in size. Look for them in kitchens and bathrooms, sinks, counters and floors. When crushed, they emit a smell of a rotten coconut, so if you notice this smell after cleaning up, you might want to do a thorough check and look out for these ants.

ghost ant infestation

Controlling Ghost Ants

The key to the majority of eradication of Ghost ants is repeatedly applying high-density, highly attractive baits laced with toxicants. The ants take them back to the nest and distribute it to all colony members and the queens.

The first step would be looking for indoor and outdoor nesting spots. Follow the ant trail from inside your house leading to walls, garden areas, patio, porch, backyard or front yard. If you don’t see a trail leading outdoors, most likely they have found a place to nest inside your home already. You can try looking for them under the sink, between cabinets, books, under pots, inside the drawers and cupboards. In some cases, you may also find them behind walls, under the floor and other hard to reach areas of your home.

Remember to inspect the following:

  • Trails for nests inside and outside the house.
  • Look for outside nesting locations, like under the lumber, firewood piles, mulch, rocks, loose tree barks or other places of decaying matter.

Controlling Ghost ants Indoors ; especially on hard to reach areas, you can use ant baits like Syngenta Advion Ant Gel .

Controlling Ghost ants Outdoors ; you can use a non-repellant spray like Taurus SC . These non-repellant sprays are non-recognizable or undetected by ghost ants, so they don’t avoid them like other sprays. These sprays kill the ants on contact and by transfer. The worker ants bring back residue of the insecticide to the nest and transfer the insecticide to other colony members.

You can also treat the nest directly. Once you have located the nest outside the house, the best control method is the drench method. Get enough amount of the solution to reach the whole colony. You can use products like Bifen IT and pour it directly into the nest as per the manufacturers instructions.

ghost ant infestation

Best Products to Get Rid of Ghost Ants

Inside the house:.

If you have spotted the nest inside the house, the best management method is baiting. Using typical sprays will scatter the colonies, so are not recommended.

Recommended Bait Types:

Terro Liquid Ant Baits

Terro Liquid Ant Baits

Combat Max Killing Bait

Combat Max Killing Bait

Spectre PS

If you need a spray to reach tiny cracks and spaces inside the house, we recommend:

Best Products for Outside the House:

Drenching the ant nest is the best way to get rid of the ants outside the house. Make sure to follow the instructions with caution.

Fuse Insecticide

Fuse Insecticide

Taurus SC

Preventing Ghost Ant Infestations

As with all invasive pests, prevention is always better and way easier, than cure. Management and control of the invasion pathways of Ghost Ants and the potential supply source is the best method for inhibiting infestation.

  • Inspect food packages from groceries.
  • Clean up food spills after meal preparation or consumption. The more crumbs or spills are out in the open, the more likely that these forager ants will enter the home.
  • If you have a garden, keep the trees, shrubs and vines well-trimmed. Tree branches or shrubs can be bridges or highways for ants to enter your home.
  • Set aside time to inspect and check for leaks, cracks, crevices and holes on the walls, foundations and beams of the house. Make sure to fill them with caulk or other materials that can close off these spaces.
  • Put piles of wood or other house construction materials as far away from the house as possible.

ghost ant infestation

  • Wiki Media Commons
  • Entomology and Nematology l University of Florida
  • Invasive Species Compendium CABI.Org

ghost ant infestation

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Ghost Ant Facts & Information

Protect your home or business from ghost ants by learning techniques for identification and control.

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How do I get rid of ghost ants?

What orkin does.

Controlling ghost ants requires time and patience. Because there can be multiple nesting sites, these ants are usually best left to a pest control professional.

Keeping ants out of homes and buildings is an ongoing process, not a one-time treatment. Orkin’s exclusive A.I.M. solution is a continuing cycle of three critical steps — Assess, Implement and Monitor. Orkin can provide the right solution to keep ants in their place…out of your home, or business.

Frequently Asked Questions

Ghost ants are extremely small and can get into houses through openings around doors and windows, as well as cracks in foundations, plus these ants are sometimes accidentally brought inside on infested plants. Once inside, they feed on sweets like sugar, cereal, and syrup. Ghost ants often appear on kitchen or bathroom counters and sinks. These intrepid pests also build nests indoors and out, even in wall voids or spaces between kitchen cabinets.

Ghost ants usually have multiple nesting sites, as new queens leave their original nests and create their own colonies. The pests build nests in various places, even frequently disturbed areas like potted plants or the spaces between books on a shelf. Ghost ants are serious pests in greenhouses, so always inspect any plants you purchase to ensure they are not infested with ghost ants – and be sure to look carefully since their tiny size enables them to hide and not easily noticed.

Finding and removing ghost ant colonies is tough because there can be so many different nests in odd places. Any type of food crumbs or spills attract the pests, and they contaminate whatever food products they invade. Ghost ants do not sting and rarely bite, but their presence and abundance inside will create a serious nuisance and potential property damage issue.

Sightings of small ghost ant workers is the usual sign of their presence.

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Understanding ghost ants.

The ghost ant ( Tapinomamelanocephalum ) gets its name from its size and pale color of its legs and abdomen, which make it difficult to see. These ants have dark heads and thoraxes. The workers are about 1.3 to 1.5 mm long.

Ghost ants are related to odorous house ants . Like the odorous house ants, ghost ants give off a coconut like odor when they are crushed.

Geographical Range

Ghost ants are tropical ants that have been in south and central Florida for several years. They are easily transported in boxes, crates, potted plants and even in household goods that are being shipped. In northern states, these ants have been known to survive only in heated buildings and greenhouses.

These ants eat honeydew that they collect from plant-feeding insects. They often tend aphids to collect the honeydew. The workers also gather insects to feed the colony. When they are indoors, ghost ants usually prefer sweets.

Outdoors, ghost ants make their nest in the ground. They often nest beside stones, logs and firewood piles. They enter buildings on trails that they make along the ground. They also enter houses by trailing on utility lines or by following limbs of trees and shrubs that touch the house.

When ghost ants make nests indoors, it is usually in flowerpots, behind baseboards and inside wall voids. The colony may split into several nests. It is normal to find ghost ants trailing between multiple nesting sites.

Ghost ants ( Tapinoma melanocephalum ) do not sting and usually do not bite unless their nest is threatened. Most incidents of ghost ant bites result in little discomfort and little or no evidence of a reaction to the bite. The ghost ant can become a serious household pest because it will build nests both inside and outside homes. This ant is a sweets eater, but also feeds on greasy foods and insects. Since this ant is often closely associated with the homeowner’s kitchen and bathroom, their most important impact may be the transfer of disease organisms.


Queens produce eggs which, in turn, develop into the other colony members through complete metamorphosis. New colonies often are formed through a process known as budding. Budding involves a queen and a contingent of workers separating from the main colony to form a new colony elsewhere. This can happen multiple times, depending on the number of queens.

Prevention Tips

A thorough inspection is the first step in preventing ghost ant problems:

Around the outside of the house, look for places that might attract ghost ants.

Move firewood piles away from the house.

Pull mulch away from the foundation to create a “dry zone” that the ants (and other insects) will avoid.

Make sure exterior doors close snugly.

Replace weather stripping where it is missing.

People who live in brick houses often place small squares of plastic screen into weep holes to keep ants from using them as entrances.

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How To Identify Ghost Ants (And Get Rid Of Them For Good)

ghost ants

Ghost ants are warmth-loving insects that can live both indoors and outdoors. They're commonly found in kitchens and bathrooms — those high-traffic zones where you least want to see pests. At a quick glance, ghost ants are easy to overlook due to their small size, typically between 1.3 and 1.5 mm. Yet, upon closer inspection, their distinct coloration sets them apart. Their dark head and thorax starkly contrast with a translucent, almost ghostly, abdomen and legs. This appearance lends them the moniker of 'ghost ants.' If you think you've got an infestation, it also helps to observe their activities and understand their behavioral traits.

The inconvenience these small critters bring into your home is not really hazardous, and they don't pose risks to your home's structure or your well-being, but they still disrupt the tranquility of your living spaces. This is a good enough reason to take action. However, you'll find that they are difficult to remove, especially if you've unsuccessfully tried over-the-counter insect repellant sprays . Because they don't easily succumb to general ant treatments, accurate identification is the cornerstone to successfully rooting them out of your living space for good. Once you know these identifying features, you can be certain whether the pests you're dealing with are ghost ants and take appropriate action.

Understanding behavior and signs of infestation

When it comes to behavior, these tiny intruders are extremely adaptable, making themselves at home in a variety of environments. When outdoors, they tend to nest in moist, protected spots, such as under logs or layers of mulch. On the inside, they are attracted to warm and humid areas like kitchens and bathrooms. They're not shy about nesting in less visible areas, such as wall voids or behind baseboards. Geographically, these ants show a strong preference for warm climates. In the United States, they are predominantly found in Florida, particularly in its southern regions. However, they do appear in other areas of the country, most notably in greenhouses that offer tropical conditions they find appealing.

Regarding their dietary preferences, ghost ants are not very picky. They are omnivores with a sweet tooth. Spotting these ants around sugary spills, food crumbs, or any area where sweet substances are found can strongly indicate that you're dealing with ghost ants. Beyond the obvious signs of seeing ants around your home, other indicators include small mounds of excavated material near their nesting sites, which are generally common with ants.

The problems they cause might not be severe, but they can spoil food and create an unclean environment, adding unnecessary stress to your daily life. While they may not be health hazards or structural threats, their persistence and ability to adapt to various environments make them problematic, further complicating the eradication process.

How to get rid of ghost ants

Once you're certain of what you're dealing with, it's time to get rid of these ants  — and make sure they stay gone. Traditional chemical sprays usually aren't effective and can even exacerbate the problem. The colony may scatter and create new colonies, worsening your ant problem. A more effective strategy involves using gel-based ant bait. The ants are attracted to the gel, consume it, and return it to their nest. Over time, this eliminates the entire colony, delivering a more lasting solution. 

Begin by minimizing what attracts them in the first place. Any vegetation touching the exterior of your house can serve as a bridge for ghost ants. Trim back bushes, shrubs, and tree branches to eliminate these natural pathways. Next, turn your attention to food sources. Store food in airtight containers and promptly clean up any spills. Moisture is another big draw for ghost ants. Leaky pipes, poor drainage, or any form of standing water can serve as an invitation. Promptly fix any leaks and seal gaps or cracks that may serve as entry points. Your home must also be well-ventilated to reduce humidity. A dehumidifier can help in spaces that tend to get damp, like basements or bathrooms. Lastly, preventive measures are invaluable in keeping your home free from a recurring ant problem. Regularly inspect your home for early signs of infestation, especially if you've had issues before.

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Home » Bugs » Ants » Ghost Ant

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Ghost Ant Appearance and Size Facts

Ghost ants are tiny. On average, they are only 1/16th of an inch and have pale bodies, making them barely spotable with the naked eye. Couple that with their characteristic dark head and pale bodies, and they can very easily sneak by as they scan your house for sources of food. 

Identifying Ghost Ants From Other Ants

These ants can be incredibly difficult to spot, making identification tricky. Ghost ants’ almost transparent bodies and dark heads and thoraxes are primary characteristics – when you can spot them, that is! Especially since these ants can be hard to even see, it is best to work with a pest control professional to identify and assess a suspected ghost ant infestation.

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ghost ant infestation

Behavior and Habitat of Ghost Ants

Ghost ants are also known as “sugar ants” for their preference for sugary substances. They will actively seek out any spilled sodas or sweet foods they can find in your home, often coming in through tiny cracks and openings in your home that other pests may not fit through. 

Like most ants, they will follow each other in straight lines on pheromone trails. It’s important to eliminate any scouts you may see before they can communicate back with the colony because once they do, the rest will be on their way.

ghost ant infestation

Signs of Infestation of Ghost Ants

These ants are often found nesting in kitchens and bathrooms, making them a concerning pest for homeowners. Signs of ghost ant infestation may include visible trails or clusters of ants, particularly near sources of moisture or food. Another indicator is the presence of small piles of debris or frass near the nest. It is important to take action as soon as possible if you suspect a Florida ghost ant infestation, as they can quickly establish a large colony and cause damage to your home.

ghost ant infestation

Tips for Prevention of Ghost Ants

Like other ants and household pests, ghost ants make their way to your space in search of food, water, and shelter. Therefore, eliminating as many food and water sources as possible can help make your home a bit less appealing to these ants. Clean up your kitchen and eating areas, and promptly store leftovers and dump out liquids. 

To help limit entry paths for ghost ants, you’ll also want to inspect the exterior of your home and seal up gaps and cracks. Given ghost ants’ small size, you’ll want to be cognizant of even the smallest gaps during your inspections and repairs. Additionally, trim foliate away from the sides of your home to help eliminate easy pathways for ants to get up to window sills and cracks in the side of your home. 

Getting Rid of Ghost Ants

If you’ve noticed pesky Florida ghost ants roaming around your home, you may be wondering how to get rid of them. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to completely eradicate these invasive pests without professional help, especially when you need to keep the safety of pets and children in mind. That’s where Hulett comes in. 

Effective Ghost Ant Control Solutions

Let the entomologist-trained team of experts at Hulett help you keep your home or business free from ghost ants. Our pet and people-friendly pest solutions are ready to take up the fight against ghost ants and any other pest you may have nearby. Schedule your pest control inspection today, and take back control of your space.

Ghost Ant Gallery

A swarm of ghost ants.

Pest Samurai

How to Get Rid of Ghost Ants | Safe & Effective Methods

Ghost ants are a common household pest found near food sources, firewood, logs, or crevices in and around your home. These ants are small and can easily be mistaken for odorous house ants. A ghost ant infestation can quickly become a significant problem if not dealt with properly.

A proven effective method for getting rid of ghost ants is using ant baits specifically designed for this species. Avoid using insecticide sprays, which may cause ghost ants to panic and disperse into multiple spots.

To help identify ghost ants, we have included information on their appearance and behavior and methods to control their infestation, including recommended products. Additionally, we have provided some effective home remedies to help control and eradicate ghost ant infestations. Let’s explore these methods in further detail below.

Table of Contents

What Are Ghost Ants?

Ghost ants ( Tapinoma melanocephalum ) are tiny, pale ants that are difficult to see and can easily be mistaken for odorous house ants. When crushed, they emit a scent similar to that of rotten coconut.

These ants are attracted to sweet foods , honeydew, and moist areas and can build their nests indoors and outdoors. Ghost ants have similar biology to Pharaoh ants and are common indoor invaders in tropical regions of the United States, such as south and central Florida and Hawaii.

They are believed to have originated in Asia or Africa, although this has not yet been confirmed. Ghost ants can also be found in Canada, Puerto Rico, Texas, and various Caribbean Islands. Due to their small size and pale appearance, they can easily be transported into homes through goods or crates without being noticed.

What Do Ghost Ants Look Like?

What Do Ghost Ants Look Like

Ghost ants have a distinct appearance, including dark brown heads, thoraxes, pale yellowish legs, and abdomens. They have six legs and are approximately 1.3 to 1.5 mm in length.

Worker ghost ants are monomorphic, meaning they are all the same size and shape. A single ghost ant colony can contain multiple queens , and they can extend their colonies to subcolonies.

The colonies are composed of fertile female queens and males, as well as thousands of workers that support the colony and care for the baby ghost ants (pupae and larvae). After the colony is established, queens develop new colonies through budding, where a new colony is created as a separate entity from the original colony.

Where Do Ghost Ants Live?

Ghost ants can build their nests in various warm and moist locations, indoors and outdoors. Outdoor colonies can be found in the ground, inside crevices, holes, firewood, logs, under stones, piles, leaves, sidewalks, and wall voids.

In houses, ghost ants can be found in walls, behind cabinets, plant pots, bathrooms, kitchens, and under carpets , among other places. They can be easily seen in electrical outlets , under switchboards, and behind baseboards. Ghost ants are sometimes referred to as tramp ants because they can relocate and establish new colonies in different locations.

Are Ghost Ants Dangerous?

They can be considered dangerous because they can carry viral and bacterial diseases into your house from trash bins or dead organisms. The presence of spilled juice or unhygienic conditions in your home can attract ghost ants. A larger infestation of ghost ants can cause havoc and become a nuisance.

They have the ability to multiply rapidly and establish separate and independent colonies wherever they find favorable conditions. Ghost ants can spoil your food products and pose a potential threat to your health. It is important to take preventive measures to control the larger infestation of ghost ants in your home.

What Attracts Ghost Ants?

Ghost ants are attracted to your house for food sources, moisture, and shelter. They prefer sugar-based foods such as sugar, candy, juices, cakes, jams, etc. The ghost ants also prey upon aphids and mealybugs, and other plant-eating insects for honeydew.

If you have houseplants that attract aphids, there is a high chance of ghost ants infestation. The improperly stored food and moisture on leaky pipes sinks , or potted plants can also attract ghost ants into your house or yard.

Related: What Attracts Ants? Information and Facts

Do Ghost Ants Bite?

Ghost ants do not have a stinger but can bite if threatened. However, their bite is not dangerous and shows no evident reactions on your body. They do not show aggressive behavior but have the potential to spoil your food items and carry diseases into your house.

Related: Ant Bites: Identification, Treatment, Allergic Reactions & More

Ghost Ants in Specific Places

Ghost Ants in Specific Places

Ghost ants are attracted to homes and cars for a variety of reasons, including food, shelter, water, and favorable temperatures. At first, they may go unnoticed due to their yellowish-pale appearance. These ants commonly make nests in the kitchen, bathroom, yard, pantry, and even in cars.

In the kitchen, ghost ants can be found under sinks, behind cabinets, in crevices, or in other dark and moist areas. They are attracted to unhygienic situations, improperly stored food, spilled juices, and dripping pipes. Using ant baits designed for indoor use can help get rid of them.

In bathrooms, ghost ants may be found under sinks, near pipelines, in wall voids, under bathtubs, or near showers. They are drawn to the warmth and availability of water, so it’s important to keep bathrooms clean and dry to prevent infestations.

Ghost Ants in Pantry

In pantries and cupboards, ghost ants are mainly drawn to easily accessible food items. To prevent infestations, insect-repellent plants or spices can be used, and insecticide dust can be placed at nesting sites to get rid of colonies. Ghost ant bait can also be used to draw them out and kill the entire colony. Keeping the area clean and free of spilled food is also important to prevent food contamination.

Ghost Ants in Car

In cars, ghost ants are attracted to unhygienic conditions and trash. To prevent infestations, all food items should be removed from the car, including candy wrappers and juice boxes. A vacuum cleaner can be used to remove ghost ant colonies, and foggers may also be applied if necessary.

Home Remedy for Ghost Ants | Get Rid of Ghost Ants Naturally

Besides chemical methods, you can also use home remedies to get rid of ghost ants naturally. In the following sections, we have shared various home remedies that you can use to eradicate ghost ant colonies.

Soap water is a commonly used and effective home remedy that is inexpensive and shows instant results. Simply mix equal parts liquid soap and water in a spray bottle and apply it to the nesting sites and entry points of ghost ants to suffocate them.

White vinegar and apple cider vinegar can also be used as an insecticide to eradicate ghost ant infestations. Mix white vinegar and water in a 2:1 ratio, apply it to the entry points, and completely drench the nesting sites of ghost ants to kill most of them.

Brine : Prepare salt and water solution to eradicate the ghost ants. Spray the solution on the nesting site of ghost ants and leave it overnight for the best results.

Natural Ghost Ant Baits | DIY

If you prefer to use natural ghost ant baits, several DIY options are available. Ghost ants are attracted to liquid-based food products, so a liquid bait can be prepared by mixing sugar or jam with 2 tablespoons of boric acid and placing it near the ants’ entry points. Alternatively, a grease-based bait can be prepared using peanut butter and 2 tablespoons of boric acid, then placed near the nesting site of ghost ants.

Using these home remedies in conjunction with chemical methods can eradicate ghost ant infestations and prevent future infestations.

Related: Best Natural Ant Sprays | Kids and Pet-Friendly Sprays

Insect Repellent Plants

You can also use insect-repellent plants to prevent and control the ghost ants infestation in your house or lawn . Some of the best ghost ant-repellent plants are mint leaves, cucumber, turmeric powder, garlic, black pepper, cucumber slices or peels, etc.

Diatomaceous Earth Powder

The diatomaceous earth powder is an organic, non-toxic, and eco-friendly way to kill ghost ants. Evenly sprinkle the powder near the entry points and on the nesting sites of ghost ants. The powder will damage the exoskeleton of ghost ants and will ultimately cause their death.

How to Get Rid of Ghost Ants in the House: Ghost Ant Control

Ghost Ant Control

Ghost ants can be drawn into homes due to unhygienic conditions or the presence of a favorable environment for nesting. After a single colony infestation, ghost ants begin to multiply and build separate colonies both indoors (in holes, crevices, cabinets, under sinks, etc.) and outdoors (in potted plants , under loose logs, piles, stones, etc.). It is important to take measures to get rid of ghost ant infestations before they lead to major issues.

The eradication of ghost ants is considered difficult because their nests are not easy to locate, and these ants can go unnoticed during the earlier stages of infestation. Several methods can be used to get rid of indoor and outdoor ghost ant colonies depending on the level of infestation.

The first step in eliminating ghost ant colonies is identifying the problem. Before taking strict measures or applying a method to get rid of the pest problem, it is necessary to locate the area of infestation . Once the area is identified, the best method for getting rid of ghost ants can be chosen. One effective method is the use of ant baits, and in the following sections, we will discuss how they work against ghost ants.

Ant Baits for Ghost Ants

The use of ant baits is considered the most reliable and effective method to eradicate ghost ants. Using gel and liquid-based baits is recommended because ghost ant workers prefer liquid-based food products.

To locate the outdoor trails and shelters of ghost ants, try looking near firewood, under stones, potted plants, loose bark, mulch, and organic matter. To find the nesting sites and trails in your house, look near holes, wall voids, moisture sources (such as under sinks, leaky pipes, showers, etc.), behind kitchen cabinets, and electrical appliances.

After locating the trails and nesting areas, apply gel or liquid baits to the entry points of ghost ants. Several ghost ant baits are available commercially, and the best one can be selected according to the place of infestation. Read the instruction manual on the bait and monitor it daily for the best results. You may need to replace the bait if there is a larger ghost ant infestation in your house or outside.

Indoor baiting typically shows results in a short amount of time, whereas outdoor baiting may take longer due to multiple unknown nesting sites. However, liquid baits give the best outcomes compared to other pest control methods.

Combat Max Ant Killing Gel Bait Station, Indoor and Outdoor Use, 4 Count

  • Kills in 24 hours
  • Tri-sugar formula
  • Kills the queen and the colony
  • Mess free application
  • This package contains 4 ant killing gel baits

Amdro 100099307 Block Home Perimeter Ant Bait Granules, 12 Ounces

  • Baits and kills ants outside before they come inside
  • Kills the queen and the entire colony
  • Kills fire ants, carpenter ants and 23 other ant species
  • Creates a barrier around your home for maximum protection from...
  • Shake ant bait around the perimeter of your home to kill ants

Insecticide Sprays

Insecticide sprays are also used to kill ghost ants, but they are not as effective as ant baits. This is because spray only kills worker ants and not the entire colony. If the queen is not killed, then nothing has been achieved. Therefore, multiple and frequent insecticide treatments are necessary to kill ghost ants if you opt for ant killer sprays.

Insecticide sprays are easily available commercially, and it is important to follow the guidelines given on the spray for efficient results. You can also combine the ant bait method with insecticide spray for effective outcomes in a short period.

For outdoor ghost ant eradication, liquid insecticides can also be used. Locate the ghost ant mounds and drench them with 1 to 2 gallons of liquid insecticide according to the instruction manual provided with the product. It is important to remember that insecticide sprays and liquid insecticides are not the most effective method for ghost ant eradication, and ant baits should be the primary method used.

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Insecticide Dust

Insecticide dust can also be used to eradicate ghost ants. After locating the trails and nesting sites of ghost ants, carefully apply insecticide dust on them. Sprinkle the insecticide dust according to the instructions manual provided with the product.

The workers will crawl through the dust and carry it inside the nest, which will ultimately cause their death. It is important to follow the instructions provided with the product to ensure safe and effective use. However, it is important to note that ant baits are still the most effective method for ghost ant eradication.

D-Fense Dust 1 lbs - Water Resistant, 8 Month Control, Targets: Ants, roaches, Bed Bugs, Scorpions, Spiders and More

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BASF Alpine D Dust Insecticide 3lb (59014078)

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How to Prevent Ghost Ants: Effective Tips

To prevent ghost ants from colonizing or re-establishing, it is essential to maintain good hygiene. Keep your kitchen and bathroom clean and dry to eliminate any potential food and moisture sources for the ants.

Dispose of your trash daily and ensure that it is tightly sealed to prevent the ants from accessing it. If you have leaky pipes, be sure to have them repaired promptly.

It is also important to remove any items from your yard or home that could provide shelter for ghost ants, such as mulch, firewood piles, and loose wood or dead matter.

By following these tips, you can help prevent the establishment of ghost ant colonies and avoid the nuisance and potential health risks associated with them. Seal all the holes, crevices, or wall voids to block the passage for ghost ants .

Best Ghost Ant Killer Products (Top 3)

[amazon bestseller=”best ghost ant killer products” items=”3″

List of Sources

Ghost Ant, University of Florida

Ghost Ant, Tapinoma melanocephalum, Texas A&M University

Lee, I. Y., Park, S. J., Seo, J. H., Sim, S., Kim, J. H., Gwon, Y. G., & Yong, T. S. (2017), Indoor Occurrence of the Ghost Ant Tapinoma melanocephalum (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Urban Homes in Korea, The Korean Journal of Parasitology

Ghost Ants Can Be More Trick Than Treat For Homeowners, University of Florida

Ulloa-Chacón P, Jaramillo G.I., Effects of boric acid, fipronil, hydramethylnon, and diflubenzuron baits on colonies of ghost ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

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What are ghost ants and how do i kill them, what are ghost ants.

Ghost ants image

Revised 9/21/2023. Ghost ants, also commonly referred to as " Sugar Ants ", (Tapinoma melanocephalum) have become a prominent subject of discussion among entomologists, pest control professionals, and businesses operating in regions where these ants are prevalent. Understanding their biology, behavior, and impact is essential for businesses affected by their presence or those providing solutions for their control as they are a common nuisance ant in Florida . This analytical report delves into the characteristics and behavior of ghost ants and their implications for businesses.

What Do Ghost Ants Look Like?

Ghost ants Tapinoma melanocephalum feeding on food scraps

Ghost ants are small ants, typically measuring between 1.3 to 1.5 mm in length. They have a distinct coloration that sets them apart from many other ant species. Specifically, the head and thorax of the ghost ant are dark, often appearing brown or black. In contrast, their legs and abdomen are pale, almost translucent. This unique combination gives them their name, as the pale portions can make the ants appear as though they are "fading" or "ghostly," especially when observed on light-colored surfaces. Additionally, like most ants, ghost ants have a segmented body with antennae that are bent in the middle. When identifying ghost ants, focusing on their contrasting dark head and thorax with a lighter abdomen and legs is key.

Ghost Ants Characteristics

 Diagram showing parts of ant

Ghost ants, scientifically named Tapinoma melanocephalum , are a prevalent species in many tropical and subtropical regions. Their unique physical and behavioral characteristics make them both interesting and, at times, a concern for homeowners and businesses. Here's a comprehensive look at the defining features of ghost ants.

Physical Characteristics :

Size : Ghost ants are notably small ants. They typically measure between 1.3 to 1.5 mm in length, which contributes to their ability to go unnoticed until an infestation becomes significant.

Coloration : One of the most defining physical traits of ghost ants is their distinct coloration. They have a dark-colored head and thorax, typically brown or black. In contrast, their legs and abdomen are pale, verging on translucent. This gives them a somewhat "ghostly" appearance, as if parts of them are fading, leading to their common name.

Body Structure : Like other ants, ghost ants have a segmented body, comprising a head, thorax, and abdomen. Their antennae are segmented and bent in the middle, characteristic of many ant species.

Behavioral Characteristics :

Dietary Preferences : Ghost ants have a strong preference for sugary foods. They are attracted to sweets, fruits, and other carbohydrate-rich sources. However, they are also known to consume proteins and fats, making a range of household foods appealing to them.

Colony Structure : Ghost ants live in colonies that can range from moderate to large in size. A distinct feature of their colonies is the presence of multiple queens, which facilitates rapid reproduction and can lead to widespread infestations in a relatively short time.

Migratory Behavior : Ghost ants are adaptable and have a tendency to relocate if they perceive threats or disturbances. This means that parts of an existing colony can split off and establish new nests if conditions require.

Indoor Nesting : While they do nest outdoors in natural habitats, ghost ants are also known to invade homes and establish indoor colonies. This behavior is particularly evident in urban settings, where they might be attracted to available food sources or seek shelter from adverse weather conditions.

Environmental Interactions :

Competition : Ghost ants often compete with other ant species for resources, especially in areas where food sources are limited. Their rapid reproduction rate can give them an edge in such competitions.

Predation : Being small, ghost ants can fall prey to various predators, including larger ants, spiders, birds, and more.

Ghost Ants Habitat

Ant Nest Location and pest control spray Imperial Pest Prevention

Ghost ants (Tapinoma melanocephalum) are fascinating creatures with specific habitat preferences that play a role in their distribution and behavior. If you suspect ants other than Ghost ants, follow this comprehensive guide to identify all you need to know about Florida ants.

Origin and Distribution : Ghost ants are believed to be native to the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa and Asia. However, due to globalization, trade, and travel, their presence has expanded, and they can now be found in various parts of the world. In the United States, for instance, they have been notably identified in Florida and other southern states.

Preferred Habitats :

Moist and Humid Environments : Ghost ants thrive in locations with high humidity. These conditions mirror their original tropical habitats, providing the moisture necessary for their survival and reproduction.

Nesting Sites : Ghost ants typically nest in soil, often under objects such as stones, logs, or debris. They prefer loose, well-aerated soil that allows for easy tunneling. In urban settings, they might also find shelter in potted plants or behind baseboards.

Indoor Colonization : If ghost ants venture indoors, which they often do in search of food, they may establish nests in wall voids, behind baseboards, between cabinets, or even within the soil of potted plants. Their preference for indoor locations often relates to the presence of food sources, especially sweet substances, and the protection these sites offer from external predators or weather conditions.

Other Specific Habitats : In their native tropical regions, ghost ants can also be found in leaf litter, rotten wood, or even amongst the folds of plants and bark.

Factors Influencing Habitat Choices :

Food Source : Ghost ants are primarily attracted to sweet foods. Proximity to sources of sugars or carbohydrates can influence their choice of habitat. They also consume proteins and greases, which means areas around kitchens, garbage bins, or any location with food residues can be appealing to them.

Moisture : As mentioned earlier, moisture plays a crucial role in their survival. Locations with leaking pipes, high humidity, or other water sources can be particularly attractive.

Protection from Predators : Ghost ants seek out places where they can safely establish colonies without the threat of predators. This is why they often choose concealed or sheltered locations for nesting.

Ghost Ant Reproduction

Ant life cycle

Ghost ants, known scientifically as Tapinoma melanocephalum , are unique not just in their appearance but also in their reproductive habits. Understanding their reproduction is crucial to get insights into their rapid proliferation and to develop strategies for managing their infestations. Here's a detailed look into the reproductive characteristics and behavior of ghost ants.

Colony Structure :

Multiple Queens : One of the standout characteristics of ghost ant colonies is the presence of multiple queens. This polygynous nature allows the colony to have enhanced reproductive capabilities, leading to faster population growth and the ability to spread rapidly in various environments.

Worker Ants : Like other ant species, ghost ants also have worker ants which are sterile females. They are responsible for nurturing the young, foraging for food, and defending the colony. They do not reproduce but are critical for supporting the queens and their offspring.

Reproductive Process :

Mating Swarms : Ghost ants engage in nuptial flights, where alate males and females (ants with wings) leave the nest to mate. These mating swarms usually occur during warm, humid days and can sometimes be observed around lights at night.

Mating : Once the alate females and males find suitable partners, they mate. After mating, the males typically die, having fulfilled their primary role. The mated females, now future queens, shed their wings and seek suitable locations to start new colonies.

Egg Laying : After finding a suitable nesting location, the new queen lays her initial batch of eggs. These eggs, upon hatching, produce the first generation of worker ants. These workers then take over the task of foraging for food and tending to the next generations of ants.

Budding : An interesting behavior observed in ghost ants is 'budding'. If a colony is disturbed or if there's a need to expand, one or more queens, along with several workers and brood (eggs, larvae, and pupae), will break off from the main colony to establish a new nest. This behavior facilitates their ability to spread rapidly across large areas.

Environmental Influences :

Conditions for Reproduction : Ghost ants prefer warm and humid conditions for their reproductive swarms. This is consistent with their tropical and subtropical origins.

Factors Affecting Growth : The availability of food sources, especially those rich in carbohydrates and proteins, directly influences the growth and proliferation of ghost ant colonies. Furthermore, the presence of safe nesting sites is crucial for the establishment of new colonies.

Homeowner Tips to Get Rid of Ghost Ants

Cleaning concept. Housecleaning, hygiene, spring, chores,

For homeowners, ghost ants can be a nuisance given their affinity for household foods and their rapid reproduction rate. Here are some effective tips and strategies to manage and eliminate ghost ant infestations while learning how to kill and repel ants without harm.

1. Maintain Cleanliness :

Kitchen Area : Ghost ants are particularly attracted to sugary substances. Wipe down counters, clean spills immediately, and store sweet foods in airtight containers.

Garbage : Regularly take out the trash and ensure that garbage bins have tight-fitting lids to prevent ants from accessing food residues.

2. Seal Entry Points :

Check the foundation, windows, and doors for any gaps or cracks. Use caulk or sealant to close off these entry points. You may also want to follow these tips on how to kill ants in driveway cracks if you notice pesky ants lurking in these areas.

3. Remove Attraction :

Limit food consumption to one area of the home to contain potential attractions.

Store food in sealed containers or in the refrigerator.

Rinse containers before recycling or disposal to remove food residues.

4. Dry Out Moist Areas :

Ghost ants are attracted to moisture. Fix any leaks promptly, use dehumidifiers in damp rooms, and ensure proper drainage around the property.

5. Natural Repellents :

Lemon Juice & Cucumber : These are known natural repellents for ghost ants. Place slices of cucumber or cotton balls soaked in lemon juice near entry points. Follow our guide of What Plants Repel Bugs , to know what landscape can be advantageous when planting your garden or shrub beds, or how to get rid of ants in your lawn.

Diatomaceous Earth : A natural insect killer, sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth around areas where ants are active. It causes dehydration in ants that come into contact with it.

6. Bait Stations :

Ant baits are effective as they are carried back to the colony, targeting the ants at the source. Opt for sweet-based baits given ghost ants' preference for sugars.

7. Monitor Activity :

Track ant paths to find out where they are coming from or where their nests might be. This can help in directly targeting the colony.

8. Outdoor Maintenance :

Clear debris, stacks of wood, or leaf litter from around the home's perimeter as these can serve as nesting sites.

Trim plants and trees to ensure they don’t touch the house, which could provide ants with a bridge inside.

9. Seek Professional Help :

If the infestation is severe or persistent, consider hiring a professional pest control service. They can provide targeted treatment options and advice for prevention.

10. Regular Inspections :

Periodically inspect your home for signs of ant activity, especially during warmer months or after rains, as these are peak times for ant activity.

How Imperial Pest Prevention Can Help With Ghost Ant Problems

Imperial Pest Prevention, as a pest control service provider, is equipped with the knowledge, tools, and techniques to address ghost ant problems effectively as ants get into homes in many ways . For homeowners grappling with such infestations, here's how Imperial Pest Prevention can be of assistance:

1. Expert Assessment :

Imperial Pest Prevention specialists will conduct a thorough inspection of your property to identify the extent of the ghost ant infestation. This includes locating nests, tracking ant pathways, and identifying entry points.

2. Customized Treatment Plans :

Based on the assessment, a tailored treatment plan is developed to address the specific needs of your property. This ensures maximum effectiveness while using the most efficient means.

3. Advanced Treatment Techniques :

Utilizing state-of-the-art pest control methods and products, Imperial Pest Prevention can target ghost ants directly, ensuring the complete elimination of colonies and preventing future infestations.

4. Safe and Eco-friendly Solutions :

Emphasizing safety, Imperial Pest Prevention uses eco-friendly treatments that are safe for both the environment and the occupants of the home, while being lethal to the pests.

5. Prevention Measures :

Beyond just eliminating the current infestation, the experts will provide guidance on preventive measures, ensuring that ghost ants do not make a return. This includes sealing off entry points, advising on landscaping changes, and suggesting changes in household habits.

6. Education and Awareness :

Knowledge is power. Imperial Pest Prevention believes in educating homeowners about ghost ants, their behavior, and signs of infestations. An informed homeowner can take early action, preventing minor issues from becoming major problems.

7. Regular Monitoring and Follow-ups :

Pest control is not always a one-time solution. Imperial Pest Prevention offers regular monitoring services to ensure that the ghost ant problem remains resolved. If there are signs of a recurrence, immediate action can be taken.

8. Warranty and Assurance :

Many reputable pest control providers, like Imperial Pest Prevention, often provide warranties on their services. This gives homeowners peace of mind, knowing that if the pests return, so will the professionals.

9. Utilizing Integrated Pest Management (IPM) :

IPM is a holistic approach to pest control that combines various strategies, from biological control to habitat manipulation, ensuring a sustainable solution. Imperial Pest Prevention's utilization of IPM techniques means they address not just the symptom (the ants) but also the underlying causes of the infestation.

Conclusion :

Ghost ant infestations can be challenging to handle without professional help. With their expertise and comprehensive approach, Imperial Pest Prevention can offer both immediate relief and long-term solutions. By partnering with such professionals, homeowners can ensure a ghost ant-free environment and prevent future invasions.

Here at Imperial Pest Prevention, we have plenty of experience in solving ghost ant issues. We offer pest control services in Volusia and Flagler counties, including Port Orange , Daytona Beach , Deltona , Deland , and New Smyrna , up as far as Bunnell and Palm Coast .

Contact us today for a free estimate.

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How to Get Rid of Ghost Ants?

ghost ant infestation

Have you ever noticed tiny translucent ants crawling around your kitchen or bathroom that seem almost invisible? You’ve likely got a ghost ant infestation. While ghost ants are generally harmless themselves, they are considered pests in your home. They contaminate food and can attract other pests. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at ghost ants and provide you with some helpful tips for getting rid of them.

What are Ghost Ants?

Ghost ants, also known as black-headed ants or sugar ants , are a tiny species of ants that’s commonly found in tropical regions. Due to their size and pale, almost translucent body, they can be difficult to see, hence their name. As ants, ghost ants invade your home in search of moisture and food. 

Signs of a Ghost Ant Infestation

If you suspect that you have ghost ants in your home, there are a few signs to look out for. Here are some of the most common signs of a ghost ant infestation:

Apart from actually seeing a large colony of ghost ants, there are a few signs to look out for. Because Ghost ants are difficult to see in small groups, the beginnings of an infestation can easily be missed. Keep an eye out for the following:

  • Small piles of fine dirt and debris. This could indicate an ant nest. 
  • You notice small holes or cracks along your walls, floors and ceilings. These are often entry points and active paths that the ants take. 
  • If you do manage to see a small group of ghost ants, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with more ghost ants than you can see. This is especially true if you find ghost ants in your kitchen near exposed food. 

How to Get Rid of Ghost Ants

If you’re dealing with a ghost ant infestation, don’t worry – there are several ways to get rid of them. Here are some of the most effective methods:

1. Insecticides

Insecticides are one of the most common and effective solutions to getting rid of ghost ants. The trick is to use the appropriate insecticide that’s formulated specifically for ghost ants. These insecticides come in a spray form or powdered bait form so you’ll have to identify where ghost ants pass through and retreat to know where to apply the insecticide. Look for where the ghost ants most actively pass, also known as the ant trail, and like the insecticide along the trail as well as into any crevices they’re hiding in. 

With that said, please note that insecticides are poisonous and can be harmful to humans and pets. Segregate areas with insecticide accordingly as a layer of safety for other members of your household. 

2. Home Remedies for Getting Rid of Ghost Ants

If you prefer a more natural approach to pest control, there are several home remedies that can help you get rid of ghost ants. Here are a few options:

  • Vinegar: Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle and spray the solution directly on the ants or on the areas where they are entering your home. The smell of vinegar can help repel ants and keep them from coming back.
  • Borax: Mix equal parts borax and sugar and place the mixture in a shallow dish near where the ants are entering your home. The ants will be attracted to the sugar and will bring the borax back to their nest, which will eventually kill the entire colony.
  • Peppermint oil: Mix 10-15 drops of peppermint oil with water and spray the solution around the areas where the ants are entering your home. Ants hate the smell of peppermint and will avoid areas where it has been sprayed.

3. Professional Pest Control

If you’ve tried the above methods and are still dealing with a ghost ant infestation, it may be time to call in the professionals. A pest control company can identify the source of the infestation and provide you with targeted treatments to get rid of the ants once and for all. They may use specialized baits, traps, or sprays that are more effective than over-the-counter products.

While professional pest control can be more expensive than DIY methods, it can be a worthwhile investment if you’re dealing with a severe infestation or if you want to ensure that the ants won’t come back.

Prevention Tips

As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Here are some tips to prevent ghost ants from invading your home in the first place:

1. Keep Your Home Clean and Dry

Ghost ants are attracted to sugary foods and moisture. Regularly clean your home and address leaks and spills immediately. The idea is to maintain a clean and dry home to make it less attractive and hospitable for ghost ants. 

ghost ant infestation

Home Maintenance: Ultimate Checklist Every Home Owner Should Know

2. seal up entry points.

Ghost ants are tiny and can enter your home through even the smallest of cracks and holes. To prevent them from entering, use caulk to seal up any small holes or cracks in walls and floors. Pay particular attention to areas around pipes and electrical outlets, as these are common entry points for ants.

3. Store Food Properly

Exposed sugary food is the main culprit for attracting ghost ants and ants in general. Store food in the fridge and in airtight containers to keep ants at bay. 

4. Trim Trees and Shrubs

If you have trees or shrubs near your home, make sure to trim them regularly. Overhanging branches can provide a highway for ants to enter your home, and shrubs near your foundation can provide a hiding place for ants.

5. Use Pest Control Products Preventively

If you live in an area where ghost ants are common, consider using pest control products preventively. This can include using baits and sprays around the perimeter of your home to create a barrier that ants won’t cross. This can be a particularly effective way to prevent ants from entering your home during the rainy season.

Ghost ants may be small and almost invisible, but they can be a big problem if they invade your home. If you’re dealing with a ghost ant infestation, try the methods outlined in this article to get rid of them. If DIY methods don’t work, consider calling in a professional pest control company. And remember, prevention is key – take steps to keep ants from entering your home in the first place, and you’ll be less likely to have to deal with an infestation in the future.

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Ghost Ants vs Termites: What’s the Difference?

ghost ant infestation

Ants and termites are often mistaken for one another. Although they have different ways of interfering with human activities, both insects can cause disturbances. Whether these disturbances cause minimal or severe damage, the first step of pest control treatment is to identify which species is responsible.

So what exactly is the difference between ghost ants and termites? Ants are often considered irritation, whereas termites are generally known for their ability to do significant structural damage. Termites, unlike ants, have a strict cellulose diet. Ghost ants are known for their sweet tooth and are drawn to sweet foods like fruit, sugar, and honey, as well as greasy foods like peanut butter.

How to Tell Ghost Ants and Termites Apart

Termites and ants are two different species of insects that share some traits. They each have unique issues that necessitate specific treatment options. When it comes to ghost ants and termites, one may be seen in the open, but the other is more subtle yet can cause significant damage to a home. Whether you need to get rid of ghost ant colonies or hire a termite exterminator , it’s important to understand the differences between the two.

Physical Differences

A closer examination of the insect in question reveals physical differences between termites and ghost ants that make them easy to distinguish. Use a magnifying glass to examine the insect closely, or shine a strong light on it to see it with your naked eye.

You can tell if the species you’re trying to identify is an ant or a termite by looking at the antennae. Termites have straight antennae, unlike ants, which have elbowed or bent antennae. Although it may appear to be a minor distinction, it is sufficient to distinguish the insects so that extermination or other pest control services can be provided if necessary.

Body Shapes

When comparing the bodies of termites and ants up close, you’ll see that the abdomen of a termite lacks a defined and narrow waist. Termites are rectangular and have a broad waist. On the other hand, ants have a well-defined, pinched shape. Each insect’s body shape can help you tell which pest is present if you inspect both insects closely.

If you’ve spent any time outside, you’ve probably encountered ants in your yard or in other outdoor spaces. You’ve probably noticed their dark-colored bodies. Ants are dark red to black in color and are usually seen gathering and scavenging for food in the open.

Termites, on the other hand, are translucent and light-colored or white in hue, and they avoid light. They tend to concentrate in dark places, so you’re unlikely to have spotted them outside unless you’ve been deliberately looking for them.

The ghost ants don’t have wings, but they can travel about thanks to their translucent legs and two antennas. In contrast, termites have wings that are both the same length as their bodies and some that are much longer. Termites also have very delicate wings that can easily fall off. If you notice dropped wings in your home, it could suggest a termite infestation.

Behavioral Differences

You can tell if you’re dealing with ants or termites by looking at their behavior and the structures they make in addition to looking at their physical appearances.

Although ghost ants do not sting, they do bite. They are not hostile, however, and might only bite if their nest is attacked. Ghost ant bites are barely detectable and pose minimal health threats. The only danger that ghost ants represent is the possibility of food contamination. Because ants don’t chew wood, they’re unlikely to cause any substantial structural damage to your property.

Termites, on the other hand, eat mostly wood, paper, and other cellulose-rich objects and can cause serious damage to a home. If you discover wood damage on your property, you should see a professional to check if termites are responsible. Other signs of a termite infestation include piles of sawdust or wood pellets.

Food Source

Ants are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals in their diet. They’re also drawn to the debris of sweet foods and greasy foods, which is why you might have noticed a swarm of ants swarming over trash in a public garbage can or near a pet food bowl. An ant may leave a scent trail composed of various pheromones, and chemical compounds that other ants can follow to the source of food.

Termites, on the other hand, only eat cellulose-rich materials like wood and paper. They’re more likely to be found in cellulose-rich materials including drywall, cardboard, insulation, and wood. The majority of lower termites, as well as many higher termites, consume undamaged or partially rotted wood. Foragers or harvesters are termites that collect and devour grass, leaves, and straw.

Nesting Locations

Both indoors and out, ghost ants make their homes near warm, damp areas. Nests are built in the ground, cracks, holes, firewood, logs, beneath stones, piles, leaves, pavements, and wall gaps by outdoor colonies. Ghost ants can be discovered in walls, behind cabinets, plant pots, bathrooms, kitchens, beneath carpets, and in other areas of the house.

Termites construct nests that are both discrete and concentrated. Termite galleries and tunnels could have a rough, even ragged appearance due to mud tubes. Some termite nests are partially above ground, such as mounds or hills, while others are completely underground or arboreal. Nests are made of dirt, small clay particles, or chewed wood bonded together with saliva or excreta. Termites deposit feces to seal particles in place during nest construction.

An ant’s life cycle is divided into the following stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. While queen ants can live for years, worker ants only live for a few months on average. Termites, on the other hand, have a significantly longer life cycle. Common termites only live for a few years, but queen termites might live for decades.

Termites have a longer life cycle than ants, with phases such as egg, larva, nymph, molting, and complete maturity. Termites outlive ants due to their longer life cycle and colony size and social order.

Eliminating the Ghost Ant or Termite Infestation

ghost ant infestation

With termite season just around the corner, it’s crucial to know the difference between an ant and a termite. Understanding the difference between termite damage and an ant infestation can help you and your pest control company manage a possible pest infestation more efficiently, saving you time and money.

Ghost Ant Extermination

Because of unsanitary conditions or desirable nesting sites, ghost ants are enticed into your home. They reproduce and create separate colonies indoors in holes, cracks, cupboards, and under sinks, among others. Additionally, ghost ant colonies also form outdoors in potted plants, under loose logs, piles, and the like. As a result, you should take steps to eliminate the ghost ant infestation before it becomes a major problem.

Because their nests are difficult to identify and these ants are usually undetectable in the early stages of infection, eradicating ghost ants is considered a challenging undertaking. Depending on the severity of the infestation, a variety of treatments can be utilized to eradicate ghost ant colonies both indoors and outdoors.

  • Natural Insecticides – Diatomaceous earth, boric acid, baking powder, and other inexpensive, natural, and frequently homemade ant killers may either cling to the ants as they travel through, dehydrating them till death, or poisoning them once consumed.
  • Ant Bait – Instead of spraying with a standard repellant residual spray, baiting is the most dependable technique to destroy the entire colony. It is advisable to pick between sugar-based and protein-based ant baits when selecting baits. Use a slow-acting bait while baiting. Quick-kill pesticides and baits will only kill foraging ants, preventing worker ants from bringing the bait back to the nest to nourish the queen, workers, and brood.
  • Insecticide Sprays – Commercial pesticide sprays are readily accessible. Simply follow the instructions for the best results. You can also incorporate the ant bait method with insecticide spray for quick results.

Termite Extermination

After a termite inspection, termite-killing treatments can be applied to your home’s exterior, direct chemicals can be used on the inside, termite baiting can be set up, and boric acid can be sprayed on your floors and walls. If you’re determined to tackle a termite infestation on your own, there are a variety of choices available, ranging from standard chemical killers to organic alternatives.

  • Termiticide Barriers – Depending on where you reside, you may be able to buy professional-grade termite-killing products. It is impossible for termites to detect termiticide, so they do not avoid it. Termiticides can also spread like a virus. Whenever a termite makes contact with the termiticide, it will unintentionally spread it to other termites, infecting them and eventually killing the colony.
  • Termite Baits – Termite Baits are a tried and true strategy. Foraging termites are drawn to the poison within these baits, which are placed around the border of your home’s foundation. The slow-acting toxin stops termites from developing normally, killing them when they attempt to molt. Because the toxin takes so long to take effect, sick termites will transport the insecticide back to the colony and spread it to other termites.

Keep Your Home Pest-Free with Midway Pest Management

ghost ant infestation

Whether you’re struggling with a ghost ant infestation or termite infestation, you can always contact a pest control company for assistance. Midway Pest Management is only a phone call away from inspecting your property and designing the best extermination strategy for your termite swarm or ant swarmer problem. For the best pest control service in Kansas and the nearby areas, call us right now .

Learn More: Are Ghost Ants and White-footed Ants the Same Thing?

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  1. How to Get Rid of Ghost Ants

    Using caulking to seal holes or cracks in bathroom tiles. Ensuring that all window screens and door sweeps are undamaged and properly installed. Sealing cracks along baseboards where ants are entering. Ghost ants (and other ant species) are important to a balanced ecosystem.

  2. How to Get Rid of Ghost Ants: Ghost Ant Control Info

    Pest Stats Color Head and thorax dark brown; abdomen and legs pale yellowish in color Legs Six Shape Unevenly rounded; thorax lacks spines Size Workers about 1/16" (1.3-1.5 mm) long Antennae Yes Region Found in many areas of the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and the Caribbean Islands Videos View All Videos

  3. A Homeowner's Guide to Ghost Ants

    Signs of a Ghost Ant Infestation By itself, a ghost ant may be hard to see, but collectively they're far more visible. When you have an infestation, it will be obvious. The ants will form trails in your kitchen or anywhere else they can find sweets. If you crush one (or several), you'll smell something resembling rotten coconuts.

  4. How To Get Rid of Ghost Ants (2023 Edition)

    Signs and Causes of an Infestation If trying to exterminate ghost ants on your own becomes too challenging, we recommend Orkin, Terminix, and Aptive. These exterminators have some of the best-trained professionals that can use traps, baits, and other chemically treated solutions that are often more effective than standard DIY methods.

  5. Ghost Ants: Do They Bite, Identifying An Infestation, Habits & More

    Signs You Have a Ghost Ant Infestation Ghost ants can be spotted indoors in flowerpots or other moist areas. However, the most common way to spot an infestation is simply seeing the ants around your home. How To Eliminate a Ghost Ant Infestation For outdoor infestations, spray any ant mound you see with insecticides.

  6. How To Get Rid of Ghost Ants

    Free Shipping! Multiple sizes available Compare Quick View Pro Pick Antack Liquid Ant Bait ( 1) $22.92 Free Shipping! Ghost Ant Control Before implementing the following steps, please verify the ant species by reading our Ghost Ants: Identification & Biology page

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    Ghost ant populations and infestations are reported in many areas of the United States, as well as in Canada, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean Islands. In the United States, the ghost ant is well established in Florida and Hawaii, and its range is expanding.

  8. How To Prevent A Ghost Ant Infestation

    Ghost ant infestations can result in significant damage to food supplies, property, and health if not dealt with promptly. Preventing a ghost ant infestation is essential for maintaining a healthy and safe home environment. Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer for Indoor & Perimeter2 Kills Ants, Roaches, Spiders with No Odor and Fast Dry, 1.33Gal

  9. How to Get Rid of Ghost Ants

    Inspect Look for their trails and nests, both inside and outside. If you have an inside nest, the best control method is to bait. Typical sprays will scatter the colonies. Outside Nesting Locations: Generally speaking, these ants like to nest outside under lumber, firewood piles, mulch, rocks, loose bark of trees.

  10. Ghost Ant Infestation

    Ghost Ant Infestations. A sighting of small ghost ant workers is the usual sign of their presence. New colonies often are formed when a queen and a contingent of workers separating from the main colony to form a new colony elsewhere. This can happen multiple times, depending on the number of queens.

  11. How to Get Rid of Ghost Ants

    September 3, 2020 By Dan Crosfield Ghost Ants Ghost Ants - What they look like, How you get them & How to get rid of them. Tapinoma melanocephalum Facts, Identification & Control The native range of the Ghost ant species is unknown. It is rampant in warm dwellings in the lowland tropics.

  12. Ghost Ants Control: Get Rid of Ghost Ants

    What are the signs of a ghost ant infestation? Behavior, Diet & Habits Understanding Ghost Ants Appearance The ghost ant ( Tapinomamelanocephalum) gets its name from its size and pale color of its legs and abdomen, which make it difficult to see. These ants have dark heads and thoraxes. The workers are about 1.3 to 1.5 mm long.

  13. How To Identify Ghost Ants (And Get Rid Of Them For Good)

    Ghost ants are warmth-loving insects that can live both indoors and outdoors. They're commonly found in kitchens and bathrooms — those high-traffic zones where you least want to see pests. At a quick glance, ghost ants are easy to overlook due to their small size, typically between 1.3 and 1.5 mm.

  14. Ghost Ants Facts & Information

    Learn about Ghost Ants. Find facts on their appearance, size, behavior, habitat, infestation signs, preventative and control tips. 1-866-611-BUGS 2847Free Inspection Pay Bill Online Pay Bill Online Pest Control Pest Control Pet Friendly Pest Control Pest Control vs Prevention Green Pest Control Termite Control Termite Control

  15. How to Get Rid of Ghost Ants

    A ghost ant infestation can quickly become a significant problem if not dealt with properly. A proven effective method for getting rid of ghost ants is using ant baits specifically designed for this species. Avoid using insecticide sprays, which may cause ghost ants to panic and disperse into multiple spots.

  16. What Are Ghost Ants and How Do I Kill Them

    Ghost ants are small ants, typically measuring between 1.3 to 1.5 mm in length. They have a distinct coloration that sets them apart from many other ant species. Specifically, the head and thorax of the ghost ant are dark, often appearing brown or black. In contrast, their legs and abdomen are pale, almost translucent.

  17. How to Eliminate Ghost Ants Without Contaminating the Kitchen

    1. Eliminating Their Food Source This step is an effective method for getting rid of ants and keeping them away. Make sure to clean spills and food remains to limit their access to food. Homeowners should also store their food and leftovers properly inside sealed plastic bags and airtight food storage.

  18. What's The Difference Between Ghost Ants and Fire Ants?

    1) Physical Features and Appearance. Since they are both insects, the anatomy and body compositions of ghost ants and fire ants are the same with a head, thorax, and abdomen. The main difference in their appearance is their body color. Ghost ants are one of the light-colored ant species. They have a pale translucent abdomen and white legs while ...

  19. How to Make Bait for Ghost Ants With Boric Acid

    Grease ant bait: Combine 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and 2 tablespoons of honey with about 1/2 teaspoons of boric acid powder. Protein-hungry ants choose a bait that has both protein and sugar. Sugar ant bait: Combine 2 tablespoons mint jelly with 1/4 teaspoon boric acid powder for a sweet bait.

  20. How to Get Rid of Ghost Ants?

    As ants, ghost ants invade your home in search of moisture and food. Signs of a Ghost Ant Infestation. If you suspect that you have ghost ants in your home, there are a few signs to look out for. Here are some of the most common signs of a ghost ant infestation: Apart from actually seeing a large colony of ghost ants, there are a few signs to ...

  21. Ghost Ants vs Sugar Ants: What's The Difference?

    Signs of a Ghost Ant Infestation. Look for ghost ants in areas where food is stored, such as the kitchen, pantry, and food containers, as well as around pet food. Fruit and sweets are favorites of these tiny ants, so keep an eye out for them in your fruit bowl or other sweet treat containers. Food spillage, food residues, and food scraps can ...

  22. Why Are Ghost Ants Getting Into Paper Books?

    Step 3: Use Natural Repellents. There are many ways to try and eliminate the ghost ants at home, like natural repellents and store-bought pesticides. It all depends on the severity of the infestation and the homeowner's preferred pest control method.

  23. Ghost Ants vs Termites: What's the Difference?

    Eliminating the Ghost Ant or Termite Infestation. With termite season just around the corner, it's crucial to know the difference between an ant and a termite. Understanding the difference between termite damage and an ant infestation can help you and your pest control company manage a possible pest infestation more efficiently, saving you ...