Ghost Ants: How to Get Rid of Ghost Ants | Tips and Guide

Ghost ants can be seen everywhere near food sources, firewood, logs, or crevices in your house or yard. These ants are small in size and have a great resemblance to odorous house ants. The infestation of ghost ants can present a problem if not handled properly.

Ghost ants can build their nests wherever they find favorable conditions both indoors and outdoors. Therefore, you should take preventive measures to control the larger infestation of ghost ants in your house. In this article, we will share a complete guide and tips on how to get rid of ghost ants infestation.

How to get rid of ghost ants? One of the best methods to get rid of ghost ants is with the use of ant baits. Different liquid insecticides are also very effective but ant baits provide the best end results. In addition, various home remedies or natural solutions can help to control and prevent ghost ant infestations.

Ant Exterminators

Ghost ants can be drawn into your house in search of food, water or shelter. These ants build their colonies rapidly and after a small period of time, you will find them everywhere starting from your kitchen cabinets, bathrooms, living room, yard, bedroom and so on.

In the following section, we have provided information on how to identify ghost ants, methods to control their infestation (products included), and prevention tips. Further, we have provided some of the best home remedies to control and eradicate ghost ant infestations. Let’s begin!

What Are Ghost Ants?

Ghost ants (Tapinoma melanocephalum) are named this way because of the fact that they can be hardly seen due to tiny size and pale appearance. Similar to odorous house ants, when ghost ants get crushed they smell like rotten coconut. They are easily drawn to sweet food, honeydew, and moist places. These ants build their nests both indoors and outdoors. Ghost ants have a similar biology to Pharaoh ants.

They are tropical pests and are considered to be common indoor invaders in several regions of the United States such south and central Florida and Hawaii. Due to their pale appearance and small size, they can be easily transported into your house through goods or crates without getting noticed. It is presumed that ghost ants have Asian or African origin (not yet determined). You can also find ghost ants in Canada, Puerto Rico, Texas, and several Caribbean Islands.


What Do Ghost Ants Look Like?

What Do Ghost Ants Look Like

Ghost ants have pale yellowish legs (six in number) and abdomen whereas head and thorax are dark brown in appearance. The worker ghost ants are monomorphic about 1.3 to 1.5 mm long. A single ghost ants colony may contain multiple queens and they can extend their colonies to subcolonies.

Their colonies consist of fertile female queens and males and thousands of workers to support the colony and baby ghost ants (pupae and larvae). After the establishment of the colony, queens develop new colonies through the process of budding. The new colony is separated from the main colony and this helps them to spread and develop faster.


Where Do Ghost Ants Live?

Ghost ants build their shelter near warm and moist places in both indoors and outdoors. Outdoor colonies make nests in the ground, inside crevices, holes, firewood, logs, under stones, piles, leaves, in sidewalks, and wall voids.

In houses, the ghost ants can be found in walls, behind cabinets, plant pots, bathrooms, kitchen, under carpets, etc. They can be easily seen in electric outlets, under switchboards, and behind baseboards. They are also called as tramp ants due to their ability to relocate anywhere.


Are Ghost Ants Dangerous?

Ghost ants feed on dead insects, animals, and sugary or greasy food. They can carry viral and bacterial diseases in your house from trash bins or dead organisms. The spilled box of juice or unhygienic condition of your house can attract ghost ants into your house. The larger infestation of ghost ants can be a cause of havoc and nuisance.  

They multiply rapidly and build separate and independent colonies where they find favorable conditions. Ghost ants can spoil your food products and can be a potential threat to your health.


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 then 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 they can bite if they feel threatened. However, their bite is not really 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 to carry diseases in your house.

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


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

Ghost Ant Control

Ghost ants are drawn into your house due to unhygienic conditions or favorable environment for nesting. After the infestation of a single colony, they 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). This is why you should take measures to get rid of the ghost ant infestation before it leads to major issues.

The eradication of ghost ants is considered a difficult task because their nests are not easy to locate and these ants mostly go unnoticeable at the earlier stages of infestation. Several methods can be used to get rid of indoor and outdoor ghost ants colonization depending upon the level of infestation.

The first step to eliminate the ghost ants colonization is the identification of your problem. Before you take strict measures or apply a method to get rid of the pest problem, it is necessary to locate the area of infestation. After locating the area you will be able to choose the best method for getting rid of them. Now let’s start with ant baits and see how they work against ghost ants.


Ant Baits for Ghots Ants

The application of baits is the most reliable and effective method to eradicate ghost ants. It is recommended to use gel and liquid-based baits because their 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 barks, mulch, and organic matter. To find the nesting sites and trails in your house, look near holes, wall voids, near moisture (such as under sinks, near leaky pipes, shower, etc), behind kitchen cabinets, and electrical appliances.

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

Indoor baiting shows result in a short time whereas outdoor baiting may take a long time due to multiple unknown nesting sites. However, liquid baits give the best outcomes as compared to other pest control methods. Use TERRO PCO Liquid Ant Bait Killer or Rapid Ant Killer Bait for the best results and complete eradication of ghost ants. We have provided a review of these products later in the article.


Insecticide Sprays

Insecticide sprays are also used to kill ghost ants but they are not an effective method in comparison to baits. This is because the application of spray only kills the worker ants and not the whole 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.

The insecticide sprays are easily available commercially and just try 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 of time.

For outdoor ghost ant eradication, you can also use liquid insecticides. 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. BASF Phantom II Aerosol Insecticide Spray is one of the recommended products for this use and also gives amazing results.


Insecticide Dust

After locating trails and nesting sites of ghost ants, carefully apply insecticide dust on them. Sprinkle the insecticide dust according to the instructions manual. The workers will crawl through the dust and carry it inside the nest, which will in the end cause their death. The following is the best insecticide dust product: Boractin Insecticide Powder.


Overall ants bait is the most effective and reliable method to kill ghost ants. Insecticide sprays and dust will scatter the ghost ant colonies and will not produce effective outcomes.


How to Prevent Ghost Ants: Effective Tips


  • Prevent the colonization or re-establishment of ghost ant colonies by maintaining good hygiene. Keep your kitchen and bathroom clean and dry.

  • Dispose of your trash daily and tightly seal your garbage to avoid ghost ants. If there are leaky pipes in your yard or indoor, do not forget to repair them.

  • Remove mulch, firewood piles, dead matter, loose wood, or other items that can provide shelter to ghost ants.

  • Seal all the holes, crevices or wall voids to block the passage for ghost ants.

How to Kill Ghost Ants? | Best Ghost Ant Killer Products


TERRO PCO Liquid Ant Bait Killer

Ant Killer: Liquid Ant Bait Station 0.36 oz - Pack of 6 - Terro-PCO
  • Higher active ingredient than other Terro and ant bait products -...
  • Active Ingredient: Sodium Tetraborate Decahydrate (Borax) -5.40%
  • Target pests: Argentine ants, Ghost ants, Cornfield ants,...
  • For use in: Homes, Hospitals, Restaurants, Apartments, Grocery...
  • Same ant control traps used by Professionals and Exterminators.

TERRO PCO Liquid Ant Bait Killer is one of the best and top-rated easy to use ant baits that can kill entire colonies. It can be used both indoors and outdoors. Terro-PCO comes with a pre-filled bait station and has no unpleasant smell. Simply place the bait station near the entry points and nests of ghost ants, then wait a few days and your problem will be resolved.


Rapid Ant Killer Bait

Raid Ant Killer Baits, For Household Use, Child Resistant, 8 Count
  • Kills ants where they hide for up to 3 months
  • After ants feed on the bait, they return to the colony and...
  • For maximum effectiveness place all Baits at the same time
  • Use indoors in corners, along walls and near entry points
  • Child-resistant

Rapid Ant Killer Bait is also one of the most effective baits. It can last for up to 3 months. The worker ants take the bait and return to their shelters and transfer it to the queen and cause the death of the entire colony. You can place it near entry points and along the walls of your house.


Syngenta Advion Ant Get Bait

Sale
Syngenta Advion Ant Gel 4 tubes 30 grams each
  • Indoxacarb .05%
  • Indoor Use Directions For Advion Ant Gel- Inspect infested areas...
  • Advion Ant Gel is consumed by the workers as well as taken back...

The Syngenta Advion Ant Get Bait is a great ant killer that can be used for every common ant species. The active ingredient in this product is Indoxacarb. The worker ants take the bait to their colony and kill the entire colony in a short period of time. This is a very eco-friendly solution.


Terro Outdoor Liquid Ant Bait

Terro 1806 Outdoor Liquid Ant Baits, 1.0 fl. oz. - 6 count
  • Kills that ants you see and the ants you don’t
  • Pre filled bait stations are ready to use
  • Contains borax
  • Flexible placement: in the ground using the stakes or on decks,...
  • Patented station protects the bait from the elements, prevents it...

The Terro outdoor liquid ant bait comes with pre-filled bait station which is ready to use push-down bait cup and it contains borax as a active ingredient. By using this bait, you can kill the ghost ants outside before they enter your house.


BASF Phantom II Aerosol Insecticide Spray

BASF Phantom II Aerosol Insecticide Spray
  • Chlorfenapyr 0. 5%
  • Indoors and Outdoors. Do not make general surface or space...
  • Can not be sold to CT or NY

BASF Phantom II Aerosol Insecticide Spray is one of the best non-repellent liquid sprays. It comes with ready to use aerosol bottle and it is effective for a wide range of pests. Use the spray on the nesting sites and at the entry points of ants to kill the entire colonies. It is recommended for both indoor and outdoor use. But as always, be careful with the indoor use.


Bifen IT Control Solution Insecticide

You can use Bifen IT solution insecticide to kill ghost ants inside their nests. Use 1 to 2 gallons of prepared insecticide solution and drench the mound. The solution will instantly kill the entire ghost ant colony. Bifenthrin is used as an active ingredient.


Boractin Insecticide Powder

BORACTIN INSECTICIDE POWDER
  • Orthoboric Acid......99%
  • Intended for use in and around residential, multi-family,...
  • This is ready to use product.

Boractin Insecticide Powder is ready to use boric acid powder with odorless, non-staining, and moisture resistant properties. This insecticide dust remains active for a long period and does not form clumps.


Ghost Ants in Specific Places – What Should You Do?

The ghost ants are attracted to your house for food, shelter, water, or favorable temperature. They may go unnoticeable at the beginning due to their yellowish pale appearance. These ants will commonly make nests in the kitchen area, in the bathroom, yard, pantry, or even maybe in your car.


Ghost Ants in Kitchen

Ghost ants are attracted to kitchen areas due to unhygienic situations, improperly stored food, spilled juices, food items, or dripping pipes. In the kitchen, ghost ants can be found under sinks, behind kitchen cabinets, inside holes or crevices, or other places that are dark or contain moisture. Use ant baits for indoor use to get rid of them.


Ghost Ants in Bathroom

You may find ghost ant shelters in your bathroom under sink, near pipelines, inside holes or wall voids, under bathtubs or near showers, etc. Ghost ants are attracted to bathrooms for warmth and availability of water. Keep your bathrooms clean and dry to prevent the infestation of ghost ants.


Ghost Ants in Pantry

Ghost ants are mostly drawn to your cupboards, kitchen cabinets or pantries due to easy access to food items. You can prevent the ghost ant infestation in your pantry by putting insect repellent plants or spices. Put insecticide dust at the nesting site to get rid of ghost ant colonies. You can also place ghost ant bait to draw ghost ants out of their nesting sites and to kill their entire colonies. Do not leave spilled food on the floor and keep the place clean to avoid severe health issues due to food contamination.


Ghost Ants in Car

Ghost ants are attracted to your car mainly due to unhygienic conditions or the presence of trash inside your car. To prevent ghost ant infestation in your car, remove all the candy wrappers, juice boxes, or other food items from your car that can attract ghost ants. Use a vacuum cleaner if you find a ghost ant colony in your vehicle. Foggers can also be applied but that method is sometimes unnecessary (click to read more).


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

Other than 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 the ghost ant colonies.


Soap Water

One of the most commonly used and effective home remedies for getting rid of ghost ants infestation is the application of soap water instead of pesticide sprays. The method is inexpensive and shows results instantly. To prepare the soap water, add an equal quantity of liquid soap and water in a spray bottle and apply it on the nesting sites and entry point of ghost ants. This mixture will suffocate the ghost ants to death.


White Vinegar

White vinegar and apple cider vinegar can be used as an insecticide for getting rid of ghost ants infestations. To prepare the white vinegar spray, mix white vinegar and water in a 2:1 ratio and apply it at the entry points and completely drench the nesting sites of ghost ants. This will instantly most of the ghost ants.


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

As mentioned before, the ant bait method is the best way to completely eliminate the ghost ant colonies. You can use a variety of baits to draw and eradicate ghost ants. The ghost ants will carry the baits back to their nests and this process causes the death of the entire colony.

Ghost ants prefer liquid-based food products, therefore, prepare liquid baits to get effective results. To prepare the liquid-based ghost ant bait, mix sugar or jam with 2 tablespoons of boric acid, adjust the amount of sweet according to the quantity of boric acid, and put it near entry points of ants.

To prepare a grease-based ghost ant bait mix, use peanut butter, 2 tablespoons of boric acid and place it near the nesting site of ghost ants. The baits are slow-acting but they provide good results.

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

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HARRIS Diatomaceous Earth Food Grade, 4lb w/Free Powder Duster
  • Natural Product - Composed of 4lbs of 100% ground freshwater...
  • OMRI Listed - Listed with the Organic Minerals Research...
  • Powder Duster Included - Powder duster in the bag for easy and...
  • Hundreds of Uses - Mother nature's best kept secret with hundreds...
  • Supports a Great Cause - Harris donates 10% of profits to support...

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.


Summary

The ghost ant is one of the most common pests in several regions of the United States. These ants are named ghost ants due to their pale yellowish translucent appearance. Each ghost ant colony consists of multiple queen and workers. The worker support and nourish the queen and baby ghost ants. They establish the subcolonies by the process of budding.

The extended subcolonies of ghost ants act as a separate colony and spread at a rapid speed on multiple sites in a short period of time. The ghost ants make their nests wherever they find favorable conditions such as moisture and different food sources. They are mostly attracted to sugar and grease-based food items, plant-eating insects, and moist places.

Ghost ants can be easily seen at both indoor and outdoor places such as in kitchen areas, bathrooms, living room, near electrical outlets, in your lawn or yard. It is difficult to find their trails which makes their eradication process harder.

You can use several chemical and natural methods to get rid of the ghost ants. Ghost ant baits are the best method that can help to control them as it gives better results than any other pest control method. For more pest control guides keep following our site!


List of Sources

Ghost Ant, University of Florida

Ghost Ant, Tapinoma melanocephalum, Texas A&M University

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

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

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