Updated On

February 19, 2024

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    How To Get Rid of Ghost Ants

    Ghost ants are a non-native species that have adapted well to the Southeastern U.S. They have no stingers and are so tiny that you will not feel anything when they bite. However, when these minuscule insects invade your kitchen, they become a giant nuisance.

    In this quick, easy guide to ghost ants, we’ll show you:

    • How To Get Rid of Them Quickly
    • How To Prevent Them From Coming Back
    • How To Identify Ghost Ants
    • Signs and Causes of an Infestation

    If trying to exterminate ghost ants on your own becomes too challenging, we recommend Orkin, Terminix, and Aptive. These exterminators have some of the best-trained professionals that can use traps, baits, and other chemically treated solutions that are often more effective than standard DIY methods.

    For Terminix quotes, you can reach them at 866-577-5051 or with this form.

    For quotes from Orkin, call 866-701-4556, or fill out this form.

    For a free quote from Aptive, call 855-521-7075 or visit the company’s website.

    How To Get Rid of Ghost Ants

    The majority of ant species are not harmful to humans, especially ghost ants. However, when you spot them running across your kitchen counter, you have a right to be upset. Here, our experts take you through the steps to eliminate ghost ants from your home permanently.

    1. Inspection

    Due to their small size, ghost ants are challenging to spot. Despite that, you will undoubtedly notice large numbers of them crawling around on your bathroom sink.

    It’s best to follow foraging ants to see where they’re entering the room. It doesn’t necessarily mean a new colony is forming, but it will give you a clue about how they’re getting in.

    2. Vacuum Removal

    One of the best and most economical DIY methods for ghost ant control is sucking them up with a vacuum cleaner. Of course, it’s what the pros use to clean out roaches as well.

    It’s best to use a crevice tool to get into confined areas. Also, be sure to remove the vacuum bag immediately afterward.

    3. Knockdown Sprays

    Permethrin sprays are excellent for knocking down foraging ants quickly. Besides spraying directly on ant trails, these insecticides are labeled for other areas as well, including:

    • Baseboards
    • Nesting sites
    • Outdoor areas
    • Tool sheds
    • Bathroom areas

    Still, this method only treats surface ants, and there are probably thousands more hidden in the nest somewhere.

    4. Ant Baits

    To ensure eradication of the entire colony, use non-repellent bait stations in these areas:

    • Kitchens
    • Bathrooms
    • Food storage areas

    The only downside to using ant bait is that it is slow acting since the ingredients in these products kill ants over a more extended period than with aerosol sprays.

    Other formulations are available also. For example, bait gels work well for:

    • Ghost ants
    • Sugar ants
    • Pharaoh ants
    • Carpenter ants

    Granular baits are best for outdoor applications since their attractants typically target mound-building species such as red imported fire ants.

    5. Boric Acid Treatments

    Ghost ants often break down into subcolonies that can infest certain areas of your home, including wall voids. To eradicate them from these areas, try using boric acid dust.

    To apply, drill 1/8 inch holes into the wall at four-foot intervals. Then, use a bellows duster with an injector attachment to release the dust into the void.

    It’s preferable to incorporate only boric acid or diatomaceous earth for this procedure. Pyrethrin dusts should be avoided here since they stay trapped in the wall void for many years and could pose a health risk to home remodelers.

    You can also use boric acid as a targeted crack and crevice treatment for several species of insects, including carpenter ants.

    Getting Help With Your Ant Problem

    Sometimes it’s best to hire a professional to help you get rid of ghost ants. Consulting a licensed exterminator or pest control company could make the difference between success and having to live with insects in your home.

    Be sure to use only those professionals licensed, bonded, and insured in your state. Your friends, family, and neighbors can provide referrals to obtain the best ones.

    Also, you can go here to see what’s available in your area.

    How to Prevent Ghost Ants

    Once you get rid of your ghost ant problem, it’s time to prevent them from coming back. However, it can be a daunting task due to their ability to invade in such large numbers.

    Still, there are some measures you can take that will help long term.

    Remove Food Sources

    Ghost ants are one of the few species of ants that tend aphids for their honeydew production. For that reason, spraying for aphids is an excellent idea for keeping ghost ants off of your ornamental garden plants.

    Inside the home, ensure all areas are clean and free from spilled food, sodas, and table sugar. Ghost ants prefer sweet substances and will forage up to 700 feet in all directions looking for them.

    Exclusion Methods

    Integrated management of ants involves cutting back trees and shrubs from your home while limiting access to foraging insects. Also, be sure to move firewood piles at least 50 feet away from the house.

    Decaying yard waste is a favorite nesting site for ghost ants. That being the case, removing leaf and grass mulch will help in the fight against insects.

    Sealing pipe entry points with expansion foam is generally a good idea to keep out several types of pests. Unfortunately, it may not work well for ghost ants since they can slip through almost any crack.

    Instead, use silicone caulking anywhere you find an opening. You may even have to utilize expansion foam first and then cover it with some type of sealant.

    Perimeter Treatments

    Chemical barriers may help close tiny gaps in your defense strategy. For example, wettable powders repel ants, but a residual microcap insecticide may work better long term.

    If you are unsure what to use, it’s best to consult a professional. They can provide the initial treatment, or at least look at your unique situation and make recommendations.

    Whatever you decide, it’s best to utilize an insect growth regulator (IGR) along with a spray concentrate. This is because it disrupts the insect’s lifecycle by killing the larvae while slowing the development of the pupae.

    Crack and Crevice Treatments

    Ghost ant workers tend to forage in the open, making it easy to knock them down quickly. But, on the other hand, you still have to keep them from coming into the home through cracks and crevices.

    One way to do that is by applying insecticide dust to several areas, including:

    • Openings in eaves and overhangs
    • Windowsills
    • Door jambs
    • Foundation cracks

    There are several products available that can be broken down into three main categories for crack and crevice applications:

    • Diatomaceous earth
    • Boric acid dust
    • Pyrethrin dust

    Start with the mildest solution first. For example, use diatomaceous earth in bedroom and kitchen areas, and employ boric acid in laundry rooms and bathrooms. And finally, utilize pyrethrin dust outdoors around eves, windowsills, and foundation cracks.

    How To Identify Ghost Ants

    Ghost ants are tiny, measuring less than a 16th of an inch, and they have a dark brown head and thorax. In addition, their legs, antennae, and abdominal area are milky white and translucent, making them difficult to see.

    Ghost ants do not live underground but make their nests in unusual areas, including:

    • Clumps of dead grass
    • Under loose tree bark
    • Decomposing animal carcasses
    • Wall voids
    • Potted plants

    Ghost ants have multiple queens that sometimes branch off into satellite colonies. However, there is rarely any infighting between each one as with other species.

    Honeydew appears to be the favorite food of ghost ants. They also eat proteins and fats supplied by dead insects and plant-derived oils.

    Just like the odorous house ant, the ghost ant gives off a distinct smell when crushed. The pungent odor is often described as the scent of rotten coconuts.

    Signs & Causes of a Ghost Ant Infestation

    Ghost ants are attracted to the honeydew produced by aphids. For that reason, you’ll notice them herding and tending these little green creatures on rose bushes and other plants.

    You can also find ghost ants in these areas:

    • Underneath boards and rocks
    • Tree trunks, beneath the bark
    • Ornamental plants
    • Heated greenhouses
    • Kitchen and bathroom areas

    When ghost ant colonies are disturbed, the workers go into a frenzy. But normally, they forage in a calm, orderly manner.

    Florida and Hawaii have the highest percentage of ghost ants in the U.S. What’s surprising is that you can also find them in heated greenhouses as far north as Maine.

    Today’s Homeowner Tips

    Signs & causes of a ghost ant infestation

    Ghost ants are attracted to the honeydew produced by aphids. For that reason, you’ll notice them herding and tending these little green creatures on rose bushes and other plants.

    Final Thoughts on How To Get Rid of Ghost Ants

    Despite their tiny size, ghost ants present a challenge for homeowners living in warm, tropical regions of the U.S. Unfortunately, these non-native invaders are making their way further north as well. For that reason, it’s good to keep a watchful eye out for them.

    Still, ant control in your home doesn’t have to become a major headache. With the right information from our pest control experts and a bit of persistence, you can get rid of those miniature crawling pests once and for all.

    Editorial Contributors
    avatar for Ed Spicer

    Ed Spicer

    Ed has been working in the pest control industry for years helping 1,000's of homeowners navigate the world of insect and rodent management.

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