Ghost Ants

Home / Pest Library / Ants / Ghost Ants


  • Colour Dark head and thorax, milky white abdomen
  • Size From 1.3 mm to 2.5 mm long
  • Description Ghost ants have an almost translucent abdomen and move in an erratic and rapid way.
  • Notes When crushed underfoot, they give off the distinct odour of rotten coconuts.

How to Identify Ghost Ants

Typically found in tropical and subtropical regions of the world, the ghost ant, or Tapinoma melanocephalum, is a small insect about 2 mm long that gives off the distinct odour of rotten coconuts when crushed. The common name comes from the pale, almost translucent abdomen of the ant. Ghost ants are known for their fast and erratic movements, which resemble the quick scuttling of small spiders. They move swiftly and can easily traverse various surfaces, making them difficult to catch or observe closely.

Signs of an Infestation

Due to their small size, nearly translucent colouring, and rapid movement, ghost ants can be difficult to see and detect in the home. The insects follow trails when foraging for food, which can reveal the existence of a ghost ant infestation in the vicinity. Another sign of infestation is if you smell the distinct, unpleasant odour akin to rotten coconut, as mentioned above.

Ghost Ants Removal

When dealing with smaller populations of ghost ants, store-bought baits can be effective, especially if the nest is identified. However, larger infestations may require the assistance of an experienced pest management specialist. At Orkin Canada, our specialists are trained and educated in all the latest removal techniques, enabling them to locate and eradicate ghost ant infestations effectively. Additionally, our specialists can develop integrated pest management plans to address the issue comprehensively and prevent future occurrences.

How to Get Rid of Ghost Ants?

The best way to get rid of ghost ants is to be proactive. With preventative measures in place around your property, you can stop these ants from expanding their colonies into your home. Examine various areas indoors and outdoors and complete upkeep or implement repairs as needed:

  • Check for cracks in your foundation. Even small shifts can be large enough to serve as entry points for ghost ants. Inspect your foundation and seal any cracks using the appropriate sealant or caulking to prevent ants from entering your home.
  • Look for gaps in windows and doors. Even if you keep your home closed up regularly, gaps in windows and doors can provide easy access for ants. Replace weatherstripping or apply sealant solutions to seal any gaps and deter ghost ants from entering your home. 
  • Inspect gardens and mulch around your home. Ghost ants are known to nest in soil near porches, or alongside shrubs and trees. Ensure you move mulch away from your foundation and regularly check for nests or increased ant activity.  
  • Fix leaky pipes and faucets. Like most ants, moisture is a major contributing factor, therefore removing it will deter infestations.

Habitat, Diet, and Life Cycle


Certain areas of the United States, such as Florida and Texas, support relatively large populations of ghost ants. They can also be found in Canada, as the ghost ants have a wide habitat range that includes both temperate regions and indoor environments.


Indoors, ghost ants are known to forage for sweets and greasy foods. In the wild, they have a varied diet that includes both live and dead insects. Ghost ants have a unique relationship with certain insects, such as aphids and other homopterans. They tend to stick close to these insects, feeding on the honeydew they produce. Ghost ants also prey on other arthropods, and their presence can significantly reduce populations of spider mites in areas where they are prevalent.

Life Cycle

Ghost ant colonies vary in size and can accommodate populations ranging from 100 to 1,000. Unlike some other ant species, ghost ants reproduce and establish new colonies through a process called budding or nest fragmentation. This means that a portion of the colony, including workers and reproductive ants, leave the main nest to establish a new colony elsewhere. Ghost ant colonies often have multiple queens, and workers move freely between nests.

Commonly Asked Questions

Why do I have ghost ants?

Although ghost ant colonies mostly live outdoors in soil, rotten wood, under tree bark and leaf litter, worker ants may wander inside in search of sweet or greasy foods. Finding a sufficient amount of resources and acceptable nesting conditions, these ants can start to build a nest indoors, potentially being found in plant cavities, potted plants, bread boxes, baseboards, cabinets, and shower rods.

Are ghost ants harmful?

Ghost ants are not considered harmful to humans in terms of biting or causing physical harm. However, they can be a nuisance and cause property damage. The presence of ghost ants indoors can disrupt your living environment as they invade homes, build nests, and forage for food.

In temperate regions of Canada, ghost ants are known to consistently invade homes to expand their colonies and search for resources. They tend to favour specific locations once indoors, as mentioned above. Additionally, ghost ants can be found in greenhouses, where their feeding on aphids and other honeydew-producing arthropods can create problems. Their tendency to establish multiple nesting sites in unusual places can make it challenging to locate and eliminate them effectively.

For smaller ghost ant infestations, you may attempt to address the issue yourself through various treatments and targeted applications. However, in cases of larger infestations, it is crucial to enlist the services of professional pest control experts. They have the necessary expertise, tools, and methods to effectively tackle the problem, minimize property damage, and prevent further infestations. 

Do ghost ants bite?

Ghost ants generally do not bite humans unless their colony is threatened. If bitten, you are unlikely to suffer a significant reaction or pain at the site. It is also worth noting that ghost ants do not have stingers and, therefore, cannot sting. 

While ghost ants may not pose a significant physical threat through biting, they are still considered a nuisance and a potential risk. They are resilient pests that can invade both the interior and exterior of your home. Ghost ants have a tendency to forage for food sources, often finding their way into kitchens or pantries where they can access sweet or greasy foods. In the process, they can potentially transmit disease organisms, making removing the nest at the source of utmost importance.

Other pests related to Ghost Ants

Icone d'un insecte

Residential Services

Protect your home from unwanted pests with customized pest control treatment

Residential Services
Commercial Services
Icone de lauriers

100% Satisfaction or Money Back Guarantee

Resolving your pest problem is our #1 priority. If re-treatment is required, we'll provide immediate services at no extra cost. If your expectations are not met, we guarantee a full refund of your service payment.

Remove pests from your home, and stop them from coming back

We work hard to listen, understand and assess your unique situation. Request a free, no-obligation estimate today for a customized pest program that fits your needs.

Request a Free Home Estimate
Request a Free Business Consultation