Ghost Ants or Black Headed Ants
Ghost Ants look like tiny, white apparitions who suddenly appear and seem to disappear just as quickly. They are found both inside and outside. They may be found in kitchens and bathrooms as they are seeking moisture. The Ghost Ant is similar to the Odorous House Ant, but the Odorous House Ant is totally brown or black in color. Workers are 1/16 inch/1.5 mm in length. The legs, pedicel, gaster, and antennae are pale, almost translucent, in color, and the head and thorax are darker in color. For this reason, the Ghost Ant is also known in some areas as the Black-Headed Ant.
Reproduction and Nesting
Ghost Ant colonies tend to be moderate-to-large in size with multiple queens. New colonies are started by budding, where one or more reproductive females, several workers, and possibly some brood (larvae and pupae) migrate to a new nesting site. Their biology is similar to the Pharaoh Ant. They are very flexible and adaptable to nesting locations. Outside, they may be located under bark, bases of plant pots, under tufts of grass. Inside, they may be found in spaces between baseboards or cabinetry. There may be several sub units of Ghost Ant colonies, with multiple queens.
Diet and Distribution
Ghost Ants will commonly eat both sweets and grease/ protein sources. They readily eat honeydew, honeydew-excreting insects both alive and dead. They are a tropical ant, but can be found in greenhouses in the northern states.
How to Get Rid of Ghost Ants
Ant Trails and Inspection
- Look for their trails and nests, both inside and outside. If you have an inside nest, the best control method is to bait. Typical sprays will scatter the colonies.
- Outside Nesting Locations: Generally speaking, these ants like to nest outside under lumber, firewood piles, mulch, rocks, loose bark of trees. These are places of decaying organic matter.
- Inside Nesting Locations: If they are already inside, establishing a nest, look for void or in-wall areas around moisture sources such as pipes, shower stall, and sinks. Also, check potted plants.
- An excellent article by the University of Florida Extension Service can be found at Ant Trails: Baiting. It gives an overview of management with baits. They can enter homes by the foundation or from trees/plants that contact the building.
Non-Repellents Outside: Unless you use an outside non-repellent spray, such as Taurus SC or FUSE Insecticide; baiting is the preferred ant control treatment. These non-repellent sprays are non-detectable by ants, so they do not avoid them as typical sprays. These sprays kill the ants by contact and by transfer. The foraging ants track the insecticide back to the nest and transfer the insecticide in the grooming process (themselves and each other).
Non-Repellent Inside: If you decide to spray inside, use a non-repellent spray called, Spectre PS Aerosol or Phantom Aerosol. These aerosols, with a crack and crevice tip can be applied in tiny cracks and crevices.
Treating the Nest Directly: If you can locate the nest outside. You can use a drench method of treating each nest. You must get enough volume of finished solution to reach to the entire colony. We suggest Bifen IT. Mix it 0.5 oz per gallon of water and use 1-2 gallons per mound area. Water down the area and pour the finish solution around a 4 ft diameter circle.
Taurus SC (same as Termidor SC- Fipronil 9.7 )
FUSE - ( Imidacloprid 21.4% and Fipronil 6.6%)
Why Ant Bait ?
- The use of residual sprays or dusts stress ant colonies, causing them to split into sub-colonies and scatter. This scattering (also called budding ), multiplies the number of ant colonies; multiplies your ant problem.
- Baiting is the most reliable way to eliminate the entire colony instead of spraying with a typical repellent residual spray. When choosing ant baits, it is best to choose from both the sugar-based baits and protein/grease-based baits.
- When you bait, use a slow-acting bait. Quick-kill insecticides and baits will only kill the foraging ants, not allowing those worker ants to take the bait back home to feed the queen, nest workers, and brood.
- If the ant bait that you are currently using is not effective (if the ants are not visiting the bait) you will need to change the baits.
- Slow-acting baits provide a variety of the foods the ants find in nature. Examples are: other insects (proteins/grease-based baits), nectar, aphid honeydew, and plant products (sugar and carbohydrates found in sweet-based baits).
- Choosing a bait requires an understanding of the nutritional needs of the colony. To be sure that you have all the baiting needs met, you may want to be ready with a sugar/carbohydrate-based bait, a grease/fat-based bait, and a protein-based bait.
- Ghost Ants tend to forage in a random pattern, so that feeding trails may be more difficult to recognize. These Ants have a high need for water and may be commonly found in or around kitchens, baths, or other moisture sources.
- IMPORTANT NOTE: REMOVE ALL OTHER FOOD COMPETITION WHEN BAITING AND LEAVE THE BAIT ALONE ONCE THE ANTS START FEEDING ON IT.
Recommended Ant Baits
(Sweet and Protein/Grease Feeding Cycles)
When in doubt of which one to choose, choose one from each category. We also carry baits that feed both cycles.
for protein/grease feeding, 30 bait stations/bag
Sweet Feeding Cycles
Advion Ant Bait Gel- Highly attractive for Ghost Ants, seeking moisture or sweets. This bait has a delayed action kill and it exposes the entire colony to the bait. Retains its integrity over a period of time.
The powerful, slow-acting non-repellent active ingredient, thiamethoxam in Optigard Ant Gel knocks out workers, brood, and queens.