Pest Issues

Ghost Ants – How to Get Rid of the Not-So-Supernatural Pest

Peter Yeeles /

Ghost ants are, much like supernatural counterparts – a nightmare to detect. They’re tiny, translucent, and very adaptable creatures with an insatiable sweet tooth. What they lack in size, they more than makeup for in numbers. Having an actual haunting is preferable to a ghost ant infestation.

In this article:

Ghost ants appearance

Peter Yeeles /

Ghost ants resemble ethereal apparitions in appearance with a few distinct ant characteristics. The head and thorax of a ghost ant are black, like the odorous house ants (they also give off the same coconut smell when crushed). The rest of their exoskeleton is translucent. Here are some more physical characteristics –

  • Size: 1.5mm;
  • Antennae: Big compared to many other species;
  • Body composition: Unevenly rounded;
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Caste system

The ghost ant colonies are structured in a way closely resembling the social order of pharaoh ants.

  • Queens – unlike most ant species where there is only one fertile female (the queen), ghost ant colonies have multiple queens in different breeding grounds. You can view them as sub-colonies. Queens are larger than the workers aside from being fertile. This means ghost ants are not a gamergate species.
  • Workers – sterile females smaller than the queens. As the name suggests, they’re the ones that do all the work around the colony. Ghost ant workers are responsible for raising the young, foraging for food, maintaining the nest and everything in between. They are extremely organized when they’re not under duress. However, they become quite erratic when threatened. The lack of stingers prevents them from being a serious threat, though.
  • Drones – male ghost ants that are mostly black. They’re smaller than the queen but larger than the workers. Their sole purpose is to fertilize the queens which is why they have the shortest lifespans.

Ghost ant social structures are peculiar because they allow for the simultaneous existence of several sub-colonies at a time. The members of the different divisions, or indeed – different colonies have no problem with coexisting.

Ghost ant habitat

Ghost ants usually reside in the wilderness. They prefer to make their colonies in the soil. If that’s not an option, they have no problem using hollow tree branches or dead tree stumps.

Because they’re so industrious, they can also use piles of leaves or even establish a colony under a rock.

However, the fact that they’re literally living under a rock does not prevent them from looking for expansion. Hence, it’s a good idea to avoid having leaf piles, large rocks, or wood piles around your house. Otherwise, you risk becoming the victim of a hostile takeover.

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Even though ghost ants usually prefer the great outdoors, sometimes they find themselves haunting people’s homes. Oftentimes they enter in search for food from a colony nearby and establish a new subsection of the colony inside the house when they realize it’s an easy source of nutrition closeby.

Any type of sugar (natural or otherwise), fruit, and honeydew are enough to attract them. They also need lots of moisture, so that might be another for an infestation.

You can find ghost ants inside of wall cavities. It’s easy for them to expand the colony in there since they need but a small opening to get inside. Their size is a great advantage when it comes to finding a home. They can easily reside inside plant pots, as well as behind baseboards or cupboards.

Ghost ant prevention tips

Hands down the best prevention tip we can give you is cleanliness. Ghost ants wouldn’t have a reason to invade your home if you don’t provide them with an easy source of food. Aside from that, cleaning will help you disperse the chemical trails scouts leave to navigate the environment.

Other prevention tips include:

  • Keep food in tight containers;
  • Fix leaks and don’t allow excess moisture;
  • Never leave spills or breadcrumbs unattended;
  • Ensure there are no tree branches, leaf piles, or wood piles around the house;

If you end up with an infestation on your hands, you can trace the trail to the source and treat the colony. Ghost ants often move near the walls or carpet edges. The power outlets are another usual suspect you can monitor. Also, make sure to inspect your garden and around your house for mounds.

Once you’ve found the colony, there are different poisons you can use (we advise caution!).

There’s also the option of contacting a professional ant controller and they will take care of it for you properly and safely.

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  • Ghost ants are hard to spot due to their translucent bodies.
  • Maintain your home clean to prevent ghost ants from coming inside.
  • The best way to eradicate them is by placing baits.
  • If a large ant infestation is taking place, it’s best to call a professional pest control service.
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