• Call (800) 479-6583
  • Mon-Fri 8am-5pm
  • |
  • Sat 9am-5pm

How To Control Ghost Ants

An ant infestation can be quite creepy to have but one type of ant invasion that’s particularly creepy is an invasion of Ghost ants. Ghost ants get their name due to their tiny size and that fact that they have pale legs and bodies which makes them tough to see. These ants can disappear and reappear without homeowners noticing which can be even more ghost-like.

Ghost ants are originally from the tropical areas of the world (most likely Africa or Asia) but in recent years have appeared in the southeastern part of the United States. The way they got here most likely through hitching a ride on boxes, crates, and other household goods being shipped from overseas. In northern parts of the country, Ghost ants have been known to survive only in buildings that are sufficiently heated or in greenhouses.

The Ghost ant diet consists of honeydew collected from insects which feeds on plants such as aphids. When they venture into indoor dwellings in search of food, they usually target various sweets.

If you have a problem with Ghost ants on your property, there are ways to eliminate this spooky pest. Whether you’re looking for control products or free advice from DIY experts, Solutions Pest and Lawn has everything you need to get rid of ghost ants the right way.

Why Buy These Products

How To Get Rid of Ghost Ants: Solutions 4 Step Process

Controlling ants, especially one as sneaky and hard to see as the ghost ant, can be quite difficult without a solid plan of action. To achieve the best possible results, you will need a multi-faceted plan which tackles the infestation in more than one way. We here at Solutions recommend a combination of baits, granules and sprays for controlling ghost ants along with carrying out regular sanitation and exclusion measures to make your home less welcoming to ghost ants. Below are some simple steps we put together for you to follow when addressing this problem pest.


Step 1: Every good ant control program starts with a thorough inspection. When it comes to ghost ants, you need to start your inspection outdoors and then work your way indoors. Pay particularly close attention to the soil and check underneath objects like rocks and firewood for ant colonies. Examine the ants themselves to make note of their trails and runways. Indoors, ghost ants can be found along walls and voids, and around wherever there is dampness and moisture like plumbing areas or around potted plants.


Step 2: Destroy ant nesting sites. Once nesting sites are located treat them immediately by applying an insecticide such as Reclaim IT InsecticideSpray to the point of drenching the nest, the insecticide will then work to kill the entire population. Make sure to keep pets and children away until the treated area has been dried.


Step 3: Once the nest has been treated, there are likely many ants still out foraging. We recommend using granules such as Bifen LP Granules to take care of the remaining outdoor population by treating the perimeter of your property.


Step 4: For ants that have made their way indoors, we recommend using baits over sprays. Try a slow-acting bait like Terro PCO Liquid Ant BaitPlease be patient during this process and allow the bait time to do it's job. We recommend at least waiting two weeks and then checkingg if the ant activity has been reduced.


Browse our ghost ant control products below. If you have any questions or concerns call or email us or chat with us live online and we will be happy to help you.

Learn More About The Ghost Ant

The ghost ant (scientific name:Tapinoma melanocephalu), is an ant species was first discovered on US soil in the late 1800’s and since then it has been growing in prominence in the United States, spreading in the 1990s. The most common state it is found in are the states of Hawaii and Florida, most likely due to the tropical climate, where it has been elevated to being a key pest.


In the Northern regions of the United States, infestations are primarily in greenhouses or other buildings we the conditions are favorable for ghost ant survival. While it’s not entirely confirmed where the ghost ant is native, the ghost ant is believed to be a tropical species from Africa or Asia where conditions are ideal. Because of the ghost ants wide distribution, it is not entirely for certain where exactly they originated.


Ghost Ant Distribution

The ghost ant are classified as a type of ant species known as "tramp ants" which are largely spread out in tropical and subtropical regions around the world. At one point, Tapinoma melanocephalum were one commonly known as the "tramp ant." Their common name was believed to have changed to “ghost ant” because of its conspicuous appearance, which consists of an almost transparent abdomen and legs.


Ghost ant colonies have been reported to be found in isolated locations as the Galapagos Islands. In more mild climates, the ghost ant is reported to have been present in greenhouses and other buildings which resemble tropical conditions with sufficient heat and humidity for the ghost ants to thrive.


Ghost ants can be found in Northern regions with more frigid temperatures such as Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Ghost ant populations and infestations are reported in many areas of the United States, as well as in Canada, Puerto Rico and areas in the Caribbean.


The ghost ant is most prominent in Florida and Hawaii, but since the 90’s they have expanded their reach, moving into Texas, most likely through the port of Galveston via cargo shipments from Florida and has steadily spread throughout the contiguous United States.


Ghost Ant Appearance

Ghost ant workers are very tiny, ranging between 1.3 to 1.5 mm long, and are all one-sized or monomorphic. They have 12-segmented antennae with the segments gradually thickening towards the tip. The ghost ant head and thorax are a darker brown color while the legs and the abdomen being a pasty white or nearly clear looking color. They have a spineless thorax.


Their small size along with their almost opaque appearance make ghost ant workers difficult to see, which is why they were coined as “ghost ants”


Ghost Ant Biology and Tendencies

The ghost ant is extremely versatile in where it chooses to nest. Ghost ants can have habitats either inside or outside. Colonies may be moderate to large in size containing numerous reproductive queens. Generally, the colonies occupy areas which are too small or unstable to support entire large colonies. Some examples of ghost ant habitats include areas of dead but slightly damp grass, plant stems, and similar areas. Indoors, the ant can nest inside a wall void or spaces between cabinets and baseboards. It will known to reside and nest in potted plants. Colonies are often divided into subsites rather than one large area where all are centrally located and ghost ants will actually move between these areas via pheromone trails they leave for easy traveling.  


Ghost ants very commonly infest homes and areas around homes. Multiple queens may be dispersed in multiple subcolonies. Usually, nesting occurs in disturbed areas, in flower pots, under objects on the ground, under loose bark. Indoors, ghost ants nest in small spaces such as cracks, spaces between books, or wall voids. Indoor ghost ants often go foraging outside for food.


New colonies are believed to be developed by a process known as budding. This takes place when one or more queens, accompanied by multiple workers and possibly some developing ants (larvae and pupae) leave an established colony for a new nesting site. Nesting habits of the ghost ant are strikingly similar to that of the pharaoh ant


Ghost ant workers have the tendency of running rapidly and erratically when threatened or agitated. They enjoy eating honeydew and insects which consume or excrete honeydew. Ghost ants feed on both dead and live insects. When workers are found trailing, their movement is more slow and deliberate. On close inspection some trailing workers can be seen carrying ghost ant larvae and pupae. They will enter structures from nests near foundations or from plants that come in contact with the structure.


In Costa Rica, it is reported that Ghost ants were sharing their nest with jumping spiders (Araneae: Salticidae) located on the undersides of leaves.Their relationship was apparently of mutual benefit (or symbiotic). The spiders provide the ants with protection from predators and parasites, while the ant nest is used as a foundation for building webs.


Rise To Prominance

The ghost ant is quickly becoming a common household pest and is becoming one of the most notorious of the ant species. Ghost can invade houses from outside as well as nest inside the house. Although the ghost ant feeds upon many different household food items, they appear to have a particular affinity for sweets and have been seen feeding on sugar, cakes, and syrups. Outdoors, the ant workers forage for dead insects and assist sap-sucking insects (such as aphids), collecting honeydew from them.


How To Inspect For Ghost Ants

Ghost ants can be easily detected due to its unique appearance and small size. Ghost ants can be spotted scavenging in kitchens and bathrooms on sinks, counters, and floors. When crushed, the workers emit an odor similar to that of rotten coconuts.


The ghost ant is in the same genus as the odorous house ant. However, the ghost ant is smaller and colored differently since the odorous house ant is dark brown or black top to bottom.


The Pharaoh ant is also similar to ghost ants but ghost ants can be distinguish by their one node on its pedicel compared to two on the pedicel of the Pharaoh ant. Other bi-colored, one-node ants either tend to be much larger or the node on the pedicel is visible from above.


Tips on Controlling Ghost Ants

The best approach to eliminating a ghost ant infestation is sanitation. Any type of food or food crumbs can be majorly attractive to ghost ants and a reason they will stick around. We recommend keeping food sealed in tight containers. Remove plants that can attract ants and also control an aphids, whiteflies and other plant dependent insects which secrete honeydew. Reduce moisture issues, including any plumbing leaks.


If it is feasible, we recommend closely observing a pack of ghost ants and follow their trail back to the nest and treat the nest. Indoor colonies nesting within voids can be controlled with baits while outdoor foragers can be controlled via a insecticide barrier treatment (such as Reclaim IT) which will keep them out. Treating their ant trails with bait such as Ant-Trax is also very effective. Simply lay it out, let the ghost ants carry on doing their thing undisturbed and then check after a couple of days to see if ants have been feeding. If not, place the bait elsewhere.


Generally, control is not necessary except where it becomes a nuisance in the home or in greenhouses. If control is a must, Solutions Pest & Lawn has a number of fantastic products which can sufficiently eliminate the ghost ant invasion

Contact Us