Tiny, usually less than 1/16-inch in length.
The pale colored, almost translucent abdomen and legs
Indoors: In flowerpots, under objects on the ground, under loose bark, and at the bases of palm fronds the ant colonizes wall void, cracks or spaces between cabinetry, books and baseboards. It will also nest in potted plants.
Outdoors: Temporarily moist grass, plant stems, and cavities beneath detritus in open under items on the ground, within landscape mulch, beneath loose bark on trees, under ground cover, in potted plants, and within piles of items such as lumber, firewood, or bricks. Nests may be readily established inside homes in walls, beneath carpeting, and in other suitable voids or spaces.
Colonies may be moderate to large in size containing numerous reproducing females (polygyny). New colonies are probably formed by budding. This occurs when one or more reproductive females, accompanied by several workers and possibly some brood (larvae and pupae) leave an established colony for a new nesting site. There does not appear to be any infighting between members of different colonies or nests. The nesting habits of the ghost ant are similar to that of the Pharaoh ant. Workers have the habit of running rapidly and erratically when disturbed. They are fond of honeydew and tend honeydew-excreting insects. They also feed on both dead and live insects. When workers are found trailing, their movement is more slow and deliberate. On close inspection some trailing workers can be seen carrying brood (larvae and pupae). They will enter structures from nests near foundations or from plants that contact the building. In Costa Rica, jumping spiders were found living within nests of located on the undersides of leaves. The basis of this relationship appears to be symbiotic. The spiders provide the ants with protection from predators and parasites, while the ant nest is used as a foundation for web construction.
The workers are very fond of the honeydew secreted by aphids, mealy bugs, and scales and will protect them from predators. Ghost ants readily attack and kill insects and will forage on dead insects in window sills and around outdoor light fixtures. Indoors, ghost ants show a preference for sweets. They are commonly found inside packages of candy, sugar, and similar foods in kitchen pantries.
Ghost Ant Prevention Tips
- The best approach to ant control in the home is cleanliness. Any type of food or food particles can attract and provide food for ants. Store food in tight containers. Remove plants that can attract ants or control aphids, whiteflies and other insects that produce honeydew. Reduce moisture sources, including condensation and leaks.
- Eliminate piles of lumber, bricks, or other debris that could serve as a nesting site for ants.
- Keep tree and shrub branches from touching the house.
- Keep landscape mulch less than 2 inches thick and at least 12 inches away from foundations.
- Seal as many cracks in the home’s exterior as possible.
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