Ghost Ants

Tapinoma melanocephalum

Actual Size: 1-2mm

Characteristics: Dark brown to black, with a translucent abdomen and legs. A tropical species, with an unknown native origin.

Behavior: 

  • Reported most in Florida, though found across states in the eastern, southern, and southwestern regions of the United States.
  • Ghost ants maintain large colonies, with multiple queens.
  • These ants are have diverse and highly adaptive nesting preferences.
  • Ghost ants are classified as a Scavenger / Predator species, feeding on sugary substances and dead insects.

 


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Category:

Pest Description

Ghost Ant Behavior

Ghost ants are polygynous: they have multiple queens breeding and producing workers within a nest. These colonies often spread to create mega colonies, forming an elaborate network. Due to their small size, they can nest in a range of locations. They are often found in warm, humid places, and will establish nests in loose soil, rotting wood, or even cracks in foundations. They are opportunistic nesters, taking advantage of small spaces to create many secondary colonies.

Ghost ants have a diverse range of acceptable food sources. When outdoors, they engage in mutualism with several insect species, including aphids. They protect and tend to an aphid population, harvesting and eating the honeydew produced by the aphids. When indoors, the ghost ant will take advantage of any food available, including crumbs, sugary liquids, and dead insects. In some cases, they will eat small live insects.

Problems Caused by Ghost Ants

Ghost ants have multiple queens in a single colony, which makes it easy for them to multiply rapidly, spreading through their network of secondary nests and colonies. They also have a wide range of acceptable food sources, making it easier to support a large colony network.

Ghost ants cannot bite, but their foraging habits are a frequent annoyance in human habitations. They can also threaten native species and delicate ecosystems. Whole colonies of ghost ants have been known to move, in a matter of days, onto cargo ships bound for other countries. This continues to spread their species and global reach. They have also been a documented problem in greenhouses and hospitals.

Preventing Ghost Ants

Because of their small size, prevention is limited to a few basic steps. Sealing foundation cracks, windows and doors, and any other possible entry points is necessary. Removing any dead wood that could provide a nesting space is necessary as well.

The primary method of preventing ghost ants, however, is limiting available food sources. Storing food items in sealed and protected containers is vital, as well as a thorough cleaning of any items related to food, including dishes, counters, ovens, and underneath refrigerators. It is very important to prevent ghost ants from finding a food source.

The best way to eliminate and prevent future problems with ghost ants is to call a professional. At Pest Control Inc, we use a variety of different treatment techniques, including surveillance, baiting, and exclusion solutions.


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