Ghost ants have arrived, and just in time for Halloween. These extremely small, difficult to see insects can wreak havoc on homes and can even cost hundreds of dollars in food waste due to contamination.
Are you dealing with ghost ants? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to learn more about this appropriately named ant species and learn how to get rid of them and keep them from becoming a problem in your home.
Let’s get started.
What Are Ghost Ants?
Ghost ants are a small species of ant which can live both indoor and out.
No, these ants are not the departed souls of wandering insects – they are instead an actual type of ant species scientifically known as Tapinoma Melanocephalum. Highly adaptable yet sensitive to cold weather, ghost ants are generally found in warmer regions in the United States. They prefer humidity, and tend to avoid direct sunlight.
Named for their unique, pale coloring and extremely small size, ghost ants can be difficult to spot individually. However, they do live in large colonies and, much like odorous house ants, release a foul smelling sweet odor when crushed. Because they feed on sugary foods, ghost ants are most commonly a problem in the kitchen.
They have been found to invade cupboards, pantries and cabinets and get into foods that are not properly stored or sealed. When this happens, they can change the taste of said foods and cost hundreds of dollars in food waste.
Like most ant species, ghost ants have an order in their colonies. This order includes queens and k. Colonies can have multiple queens at one time, and it’s likely you won’t stumble across them when looking for ghost ants. Instead, keep an eye out for worker ghost ants, who are only about 1.3 to 1.5 mm in length.
A ghost ant infestation typically begins outdoors, as these insects tend to build their colonies and nests in an abundance of different outdoor locations. However, they can and do easily make their way indoors, utilizing their small size to slip into tiny cracks and crevices along your home’s foundation.
The below video shows how Ghost Ants can enter your home through even the smallest entry points.
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Once inside, ghost ants invade walls and outlets. They build their nests out of sight and will often be found coming out of electrical outlets, vents and other gaps inside the home. From there, scout ants will find food, leaving a scent trail for other worker ants to follow.
While ghost ants are not dangerous and do not sting, they are a serious problem for many homeowners and properties. But how did you get ghost ants and why did they choose your home to invade in the first place?
Let’s find out.
What Attracted Ghost Ants To Your Home?
Ghost ants are attracted to sweet, sugary foods.
Like most ants, ghost ants have a particularly keen sense of smell. They are highly attracted to sweet foods including sugars, sodas, candy, cereal, and fruit. However, they also dine on living insects, dead insects and honeydew, which is a sweet excretion produced by insects like aphids. For this reason, most ghost ant infestations begin outdoors.
Ghost ants are very adaptable and build their nests and colonies below ground. They can also build nests in the hollows of trees, tree branches, wood piles, beneath stones, in leaf litter, dead logs, and more.
Along your home, they prefer patios, wall voids, baseboards, and the moist soil of potted plants. Because they are also attracted to areas rich in moisture and humidity, it is not uncommon to find ghost ants in the bathroom or beneath the sink.
Most people wind up with ghost ants in their home via vulnerabilities in their foundation, as we mentioned above. These vulnerabilities could be as small as a tiny tear in your window screen or a little hole in your siding.
Once inside, ghost ants branch off and can make multiple colonies with thousands of worker ants and multiple queens, making them extremely difficult to get rid of. Luckily, as long as you know for sure you are dealing with ghost ants, there are methods you can use to treat them.
How To Identify Ghost Ants
Ghost ants are small and have a large abdomen.
Small and pale, ghost ants are easy to identify, but only if you have a magnifying glass. While their small size is a good indicator of their presence, you can also identify ghost ants based on their behavior.
Remember, they tend to invade the insides of walls and are often found appearing out of vents, light fixtures, and outlets. Ghost ants are also often found in kitchens, trailing along bathroom walls, bathtubs, beneath the sink, and along the edge of carpets.
Ghost ants do emit a foul, sweet smelling odor when crushed, but so do odorous house ants. However, you can tell the two apart when comparing their size. Odorous house ants are larger than ghost ants, and are dark black or brown.
Other ants ghost ants are compared to are Pharaoh ants, but again you can distinguish between the two primarily in appearance. Though similar in size and color, Pharaoh ants have distinct separation on their abdomen. Ghost ants, on the other hand, have a larger bottom abdomen with just one node.
If you can’t tell for certain which type of ant you are dealing with, you might consider contacting a professional pest control expert for help. However, the good news is that these three ants (pharaoh ants, ghost ants and odorous house ants) can be treated using similar methods.
With that in mind, it’s time to learn how to get rid of ghost ants for good.
How To Get Rid Of Ghost Ants – Most Popular Methods
There are plenty of methods you can use to get rid of ghost ants.
Ghost ants are certainly a formidable foe in the pest world, but they can be dealt with using the right combination of pest control products and treatments.
There are four common methods you can use for how to get rid of ghost ants, and these methods include:
- Natural Products
- Home Remedies
While all above methods can be effective in many cases, keep in mind that more severe cases may require a more intensive treatment. Some people find that using a combination of the above treatments helps ensure they get rid of ghost ants, while others find that just using one treatment will do the trick.
Not sure which method for how to get rid of ghost ants would be right for you? Let’s take a look at some of the best treatment options below and go over some of our favorite products.
How To Get Rid Of Ghost Ants Using Natural Products
Many ghost ants are attracted to flowers, so organic gardeners will love using natural pest control products.
Natural repellents are great for anyone looking to use organic forms of pest control. What we love most about using natural products for how to get rid of ghost ants is that these products often contain no harsh chemicals and are safe for people, pets and the environment.
Furthermore, most pest control experts agree that many quality natural insecticides work just as effectively as chemical insecticides when used properly.
But which products are top notch and right for you? Take a look at some of our favorite natural products you can use to get rid of ghost ants below.
EcoRaider Crawling Insect Killer
First on our list of natural products for ghost ant control is a spray by EcoRider. This all natural ant killer spray uses non-toxic ingredients that are safe for people, pets and the environment and that kill ants and a number of other pests on contact.
The spray also helps remove ant trails and keep pests from re-entering your home for up to 4 weeks. You can use it inside and out and rest easy knowing this product is 100% biodegradable and safe.
Wondercide Natural Products Outdoor Pest Control
Because ghost ant infestations typically begin outdoors, protecting your perimeter from these pests can help reduce your chances of an indoor problem. The above outdoor spray is by Wondercide, which is an organic insecticide that uses essential oils and other botanical ingredients to repel and kill pests like mosquitoes, ants, fleas, roaches and more.
It is safe for people, pets and the environment and can be sprayed directly on gardens and foliage. It is also safe to use in and around areas where children and pets play and there is no wait time upon application.
Wondercide Indoor Pest Spray
Wondercide also makes an indoor pest control spray for ants, spiders, fleas, roaches, and gnats that is just as safe and effective. It can be used in the kitchen and in areas where food is stored and prepared as it uses only natural ingredients that are safe.
The product contains essential oils like peppermint oil, lemongrass oil, cedar oil or rosemary oil depending on your preference and can be ordered in different sizes.
Diatomaceous Earth is an all natural powder that has many uses, one of which is pest control. The above product is designed specifically for the control of crawling insects like ghost ants, and works both inside and outside to keep them at bay.
DE is made of fossilized algae that is 100% organic and safe for people, pets and the environment. It works by penetrating the hard exoskeleton of ghost ants and other pests like spiders, roaches and bed bugs, which dehydrates and kills them.
This dust is safe to apply directly to garden plants, though it will need to be reapplied if it gets wet.
Ultrasonic Pest Repeller
Ultrasonic pest repellers like those listed above are great for both pest prevention and pest control amidst an infestation. The plug-ins work by emitting ultrasonic sound waves and vibrations that are extremely irritating to pests like ghost ants but completely harmless and not noticeable to people and pets.
The above ultrasonic pest repeller plug ins come in an order of six and can be placed in each room. The vibrations also penetrate walls to help repel and eradicate ghost ants who have built their colonies out of sight.
HARRIS Natural Ant Killer
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Last on our list of natural products to get rid of ghost ants is a natural spray by HARRIS. This spray is safe for both inside and outside use and is made of natural ingredients like plant oils. It is safe to use around people and pets and is environmentally friendly.
Once applied, the spray kills ants within 30 minutes. It does not stain or leave any oily residue, and the essential oils in the ingredients leave behind a lovely smell, which is always a bonus.
Best Home Remedies For How To Get Rid Of Ghost Ants
Cinnamon and other chalky substances can help protect your home from ghost ants.
If you like natural products or the idea of using organic pest control remedies to get rid of ants, then you may also be interested in home remedies. Ghost ants are certainly annoying, but since they aren’t dangerous and don’t cause any structural damage, many homeowners opt to try their hand at DIY pest control options before spending money.
In fact, you likely already have a number of household products that will work well to repel and prevent ghost ants from coming around.
Some household products that repel ghost ants include:
- Essential Oils
- Castile Soap
- Citrus Fruits
- White Vinegar
- Salt and Pepper
- And Aspartame
How To Use Chalk, Cinnamon, or Cornmeal Against Ghost Ants
Ants have a hard exoskeleton that helps hold in water, and they are easily dehydrated by dry, chalky substances like cinnamon, cornmeal or chalk. You can help keep ghost ants from coming into your home by spreading small barriers of one of the above substances around window sills, gaps in doorways, and around the perimeter of your house. Ghost ants do not like chalky substances and tend to avoid walking through them at all costs.
How To Use Essential Oils To Get Rid Of Ghost Ants
When using essential oils for pest control, make sure you use the proper scents and formulas. You also may need to repeat the application of essential oils in and around your home for this method to be most effective.
Some of the best essential oils for ghost ant removal include:
- Peppermint Oil
- Citrus Oil
- Tea Tree Oil
- Cedarwood oil
- Citrus Oil
- Tea Tree Oil
- Cinnamon Oil
- And Eucalyptus Oil
DIY Essential Oil Ant Repellent Spray
- 1 spray bottle
- 10 – 20 drops of one of the essential oils listed above
- 2 cups of water
Combine the above ingredients in the spray bottle and shake to mix. Then spray the solution in and around your home. Make sure to spray beneath cupboards, cabinets, below the sink, along floorboards, baseboards, and carpet edges. You can also spray this solution along window ledges and door frames to keep outside ghost ants from coming in.
DIY White Vinegar Ghost Ant Repellent Spray
Ghost ants are repelled by the smell of vinegar, but that’s not why we’ve listed it. White vinegar, when combined with the right ingredients, makes an excellent and natural household cleaner and helps mask the scent of food from pests.
You can make your own cleaning spray and ghost ant repellent spray by following the below directions.
- 1 spray bottle
- 1 cup of water
- 1 cup of white vinegar
- 10 drops of essential oil (optional)
Combine the above ingredients into a spray bottle and shake to mix thoroughly. Use this solution to wipe down surfaces, walls, counters and cabinets. Repeat the process every couple of days to repel pests like ghost ants and to keep crumbs and enticing food smells at bay.
How To Get Rid Of Ghost Ants With Insecticides
Large infestations may require insecticides to treat.
Unfortunately, when ghost ants do infiltrate your home they often do so in large numbers. If you are looking for a more intensive treatment to get rid of ghost ants, you may need to use a combination of methods, including insecticides.
However, remember that insecticides do use toxic chemicals that can be harmful to people, pets and the environment. For this reason, it’s highly important to always read the label and use these products only as instructed.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most effective products available for how to get rid of ghost ants.
TERRO Ant Bait
Large ghost ant colonies sometimes require bait in order to eradicate, and this is especially true with ghost ants who can have multiple queens. The above ant bait by TERRO uses granule bait and is for outdoor and perimeter use to eliminate ghost ants before they become a problem inside.
The granules also get rid of other pests like slugs, snails, earwigs, roaches, crickets and silverfish. They are weather resistant and, best of all, will not harm beneficial insects like bees, butterflies and ladybugs.
However, these granules do contain toxic chemicals that can be dangerous to people and pets. Use this product only as directed and keep it out of reach of children.
Raid Max Ant Bait Packs
Raid is another popular insecticide product you can use for how to get rid of ghost ants. These bait packs are designed for indoor use and are ideal for ghost ant invasions. They can be placed in your home, beneath cabinets, in pantries, and along the floor to attract and kill scout ants.
The product continues working for up to three months and comes designed in a kid and pet resistant pack.
Raid Ant and Roach Spray
If you are looking for a spray that works on contact, then you might want to check out Raid’s insecticide spray. This spray works for ants, spiders, roaches and other pests. It contains essential oils and is considered pet and kid safe, though it should be used with caution and only as directed as it is not completely organic and natural.
Still, this is a safer alternative to other chemical insecticide sprays, especially when dealing with ghost ants in the kitchen and inside the home.
Ortho Home Defense Perimeter Spray
Last, we have an indoor perimeter spray by Ortho. This insecticide lasts for up to one year after application and helps prevent outdoor pests like ghost ants, spiders, roaches and more from getting inside your home. The product comes with an application wand for easy distribution along the perimeter of your home as well.
The spray is non-greasy and doesn’t stain, though there is a short wait time for it to dry once it is applied. It contains chemical ingredients that can be dangerous to people and pets and should be used only as directed.
How To Get Rid Of Ghost Ants – When To Call A Professional
Treatment for ghost ants can be difficult, especially if an infestation has gone on for a while. Because ghost ants have multiple queens and can branch off into many different colonies once inside your home, you may find that you cannot get rid of them with the use of over-the-counter products and remedies.
In this case, you may need to contact a local pest control expert to help you eradicate the ghost ants for good. On average, pest control professionals charge around $100 to $500 for ghost ant removal, but this price can vary depending on your region and the severity of your infestation.
Once you’ve managed to get rid of the ghost ants in and around your home, your next focus should be on preventative measures to keep them from returning.
How To Prevent Future Ghost Ants In Your Home
Routine cleaning can help prevent a number of pests, including ghost ants.
Preventing a ghost ant infestation is generally easier and less expensive than trying to eradicate an infestation. This is why we recommend taking the time to fortify your home against these pests in the future by following the below tips.
Get Rid of Ghost Ant Colonies On Your Property
If you stumble upon a ghost ant colony outside your home, remove it as quickly as possible. Keep in mind that these colonies can expand rapidly and quickly make their way into your house.
Remove Debris In Your Yard
Loose debris like leaf litter, dead trees, logs, and wood piles all make for excellent ghost ant homes. You can help reduce your chances of a future infestation by removing loose debris and leaf litter on your property. If you do have wood piles outside of your home, like piles of firewood, for example, keep these piles at least 20 feet from your home’s perimeter.
Keep Foliage At Least Three Feet From Your Home’s Siding
Ghost ants often find their way inside your home because the foliage they have been living in is so close. Keep branches and bushes trimmed and at least three feet from your home’s siding. You can also use cedar mulch along your home’s perimeter to further repel these pests.
Sweep and Vacuum Often
Sweeping and vacuuming inside can help eliminate potential food sources around your home that could attract ghost ants. Make sure when you empty the vacuum bag or toss the debris from sweeping that you do so carefully and in outside garbage bins with sealed lids.
Keep Your Home Free of Clutter
Ghost ants and many other pests find that clutter provides them with plenty of places to hide inside your home. Clutter also allows for a buildup of food sources that ghost ants may be attracted to like crumbs and dead insects.
Remove clutter and keep your home nice and tidy to reduce these pests and many others including spiders, bed bugs and roaches.
Store and Seal Food Properly
Keep food inside your home stored properly. Perishable foods should be refrigerated when not in use and pantry foods will do well stored in airtight containers made of thick plastic or glass. It’s also a good idea to avoid leaving fruit out on the counter to get overly ripe.
Keep Up With Routine Home Maintenance
Repair cracks and crevases along your home’s perimeter to help keep ghost ants and other pests at bay. Also make sure screens are properly fitted and free of rips or tears and that any gaps in doorways are caulked and sealed.
Use A Quality Pest Control Regime Year-Round
Last but not least, maintaining a quality pest control regime year-round will help keep not only ghost ants from becoming a problem, but many other pests as well.
We hope this has been a helpful guide on how to get rid of ghost ants and prevent them from returning. Now it’s your turn! What do you think about this uniquely named ant species? Leave us your thoughts about ghost ants in the comment section below.
Jack founded our blog after two decades of working in the pest control industry. His vast experience dealing with a wide array of pests allows him to diagnose issues quickly and get to the heart of pest problems quickly and effectively. He has serviced more than 2,000 homes over his career and there is hardly any pest situation that he has not seen before.