Ghost Ants

Quick Stats

  • Latin Name: Tapinoma melanocephalum
  • Size: Workers measure from 1.3mm to 1.5mm long
  • Color: Ghost ants are most notable for their color. They have dark heads and mid-thorax areas but have white abdomens and legs. They’re difficult to see, hence the name “ghost.”
  • Found in: They’re a tropical species, mainly found in Florida, particularly the south to central part of the state. They’ve since spread to other warm southern states like Georgia and Louisiana and can also be found in Hawaii.
  • Overview: Since they’re accustomed to tropical climates, Ghost Ants can’t survive in cold weather. They’re mostly distinguished by their small size and unusual color patterns; they put off a coconut-like odor when crushed!

About Ghost Ants

Ghost Ants first made their way into the United States in crates and shipments coming into tropical ports. Though they’re easily transmitted to northern states they won’t survive long without a heated building or greenhouse to live in. Their diet mainly consists of the honeydew put off by aphids, but when trapped indoors the species prefers sweet foods over savory.
They build their nests underground where they can retain heat and be protected from predatory insects. Ghost ants typically build their nests near piles of firewood, stacks of rock, or other protective structures and their nesting habits are actually incredibly similar to those of Pharaoh Ants. Once they make their way inside they tend to split into several different nests. Baseboards, flowerpots, and behind sheetrock provide excellent hiding spots for their nests because they’re private and warm. They don’t leave much of a trace but it’s not uncommon to see several Ghost Ants traveling from one nest to another once there’s an infestation.

Facts About Ghost Ants

Fortunately, Ghost Ants don’t usually bite unless threatened. Their bites aren’t dangerous and provide little discomfort, but because their indoor nests are often found near bathrooms and kitchens a greater concern is the spreading of disease. Because they sometimes feed on other insects, Ghost Ants may actually bring disease-carrying pests inside your home to feed.
Preventing a Ghost Ant infestation is similar to preventing a termite problem. First and foremost, remove all nesting habitats from around your home including stacks of wood, piles of mulch, or any other organic material that could serve as protection. Since these ants need high moisture and warmth to survive they’ll naturally seek out the wettest shelter they can, even if that’s along your foundation. It’s also important to seal up any holes in your weather stripping, brick, or siding to ensure Ghost Ants (and other ant species) can’t make their way inside through cracks. Because Ghost Ant nests are so often split up into multiple colonies it’s important to call a professional if you spot one or more. Removing their nests takes time and patience and may require multiple treatments.

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