Ghost Ant


This ant gets its common name from the fact that it is very hard to see because of its pale color and tiny size. This is a tropical species, probably of African or Oriental origin. In the United States, it is found primarily in central and southern Florida and Hawaii, but reached Texas in 1994-1995. Ghost ants have been found in many areas of the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, and the Caribbean Islands. In the northern states it is unable to survive except in greenhouses and in similar heated situations, but has done so as far north as Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.


Workers monomorphic, about 1/16″ (1.3-1.5 mm) long. Head and thorax dark, antennae, pedicel, gaster, and legs pale in color. Antennae 12-segmented, segments gradually thickened towards tip. Thorax lacks spines, profile not evenly rounded. Pedicel 1-segmented, hidden/concealed from view from above by base of  gaster. Gaster with anal opening slitlike, lacking circlet of hairs. Stinger absent. Workers emit rotten, coconutlike odor when disturbed or crushed.

Similar Groups

    1. Odorous house ant (Tapinoma sessile) entirely dark brown to black. 
    2. White-footed ant (Technomyrmex albipes) with tarsi pale yellowish-white.
    3. Field ants (Formica spp.) if bicolored have pedicel visible from above and gaster with circlet of hairs.
    4. Pharaoh ant (Monomorium pharaonis) with 2 nodes in pedicel.
    5. Other 1-node ants if bicolored, then much larger and/or pedicel visible from above.


Nests are usually located in cavities or voids, or in the soil. Nests are moderate to large in size, containing thousands of workers and numerous functional queens. New colonies are probably started by “budding” where one or more reproductive females, several workers, and possibly some brood (larvae and pupae) migrate to a new nesting site. It is not known if new colonies are founded by swarmers. There is no antagonism between members of different colonies or nests. Although ghost ant biology has not been studied in detail, it appears to be similar to that of Pharaoh ants.

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Ghost ants are highly adaptable in their nesting habits. Inside, ghost ants typically nest in cavities which include wall voids, behind baseboards, between cabinets and walls, etc. They will also nest in the soil of potted plants. Their nesting habits seem to be similar to those of Pharaoh ants.

Outside, ghost ants will nest in soil including that of potted plants, under stones, under and inside logs, under and in firewood, in the debris in tree crotches, in cavities in dead tree and shrub branches, and in hollow cavities in plants. They seem to prefer cavities and crevices found in trees and shrubs. Ghost ants will readily enter structures, usually by trailing from nests along the foundation or via branches of trees and/or shrubs that contact the structure.

Workers are very fond of honeydew and tend honeydew-excreting insects. Ghost ants also feed on dead and living insects. In Puerto Rico they have been observed destroying the eggs and first instar larvae of house flies, Musca domestica (Linnaeus). Inside, these ants show a preference for sweets.

Ghost ant workers run rapidly and erratically when disturbed. They follow trails and like to trail along edges and corners. They trail under the grass and/or mulch line of sidewalks, patios, and foundation walls outside. Inside, they trail under carpet edges and along electrical wires in wall voids where they are hidden from view. Because of their high moisture needs, they can often be found trailing to water sources such as sinks, wash basins, commodes, shower stalls, tubs, potted plants, etc.

Ants Pest Control Naples

A thorough inspection both inside and outdoors is crucial to determine ant nest location(s). Inside look primarily near moisture sources (sinks, potted plants, etc.) and secondarily near food sources (sweets stored in cabinets, etc.). Check carpet edges and shoe moldings. Inspect electrical outlets and telephone jacks, especially in the kitchen and bathroom. Check walls around possible entryways (window and door frames, utility lines, weep holes, etc.) for trails of ants as well as along edges and corners. Follow any foraging trails of ants back to their nest. If the ants are associated with an outside/perimeter wall, then go outside and look for ants trailing along the wall on the opposite  side.

If the nest(s) cannot be located, it may be necessary to prebait with sweets such as jelly in short pieces of soda straw to draw the ants out. Place such prebaits where ants have been seen, in electrical outlet boxes, along carpet edges, in food cabinets, etc. Check these prebait placements in 24-48 hours for activity. If ants cannot then be found coming in from outdoors, use one of the commercial baits for control. Try both protein-based and sweet baits.

Outside, inspect along the foundation wall, patio, and sidewalks by pulling back the grass and/or mulch. Then pull back any mulch at the base of trees and shrubs with a rake. Check debris in tree/shrub crotches using a screwdriver because fire ants also nest here. Turn over any stones, bricks, logs, firewood, and debris on the ground especially near the foundation; as much as possible such items should be eliminated. Check any branches of trees/shrubs in contact with the structure; these should be trimmed back to eliminate contact. Follow trailing ants back to their nest. Treat nests with an appropriately labeled pesticide.

If there is continual ghost ant invasion from the outside, a perimeter treatment using a microencapsulated or wettable powder formulation of pyrethroid should be applied. Be thorough and include treatment up under the siding-to-foundation wall junction if such is present. Seal all electrical and utility line entrances.

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