As Halloween Approaches, Ghost Ant Infestations on the Rise

As Halloween approaches, our South Florida service offices have noticed an uptick in customer calls regarding ghost ants. While it may just be a coincidence that a holiday with ghouls and goblins coincides with this increase, there is no disputing the importance of taking these insects seriously.

Ghost ants are tropical ants that have been in South and Central Florida for several years. They are easily transported in boxes, crates, potted plants and even in household goods that are being shipped. In northern states, these ants have been known to survive only in heated buildings and greenhouses.

The ghost ant gets its name from its small size and pale color of its legs and abdomen, which make it difficult to see. These ants have dark heads and thoraxes. The workers are extremely small – less than 1/16 inch long. Like the odorous house ants, ghost ants give off a coconut-like odor when they are crushed. Foragers are seen in kitchens and bathrooms on sinks, counters, and floors.

A sighting of small ghost ant workers is the usual sign of their presence. New colonies often are formed when a queen and a contingent of workers separate from the main colony to form a new colony elsewhere. This can happen multiple times, depending on the number of queens.

When ghost ants make nests indoors, it is usually in flowerpots, behind baseboards and inside wall voids. The colony may split into several nests. It is normal to find ghost ants trailing between multiple nesting sites. Outdoors, ghost ants make their nests in the ground. They often nest beside stones, logs and firewood piles. They enter buildings on trails that they make along the ground. They also enter houses by trailing on utility lines or by following limbs of trees and shrubs that touch the house.

Ghost ants’ bites are not a concern as stingers are absent; however, their colonies can occupy several different nesting sites and spread a variety of bacteria, which is why they need to be treated if found.

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. When they are indoors, ghost ants usually prefer sweets. Food should be stored in tightly sealed containers. Remove plants that can attract ants or control aphids, whiteflies, and other insects that produce honeydew. These ants eat honeydew that they collect from plant-feeding insects. Reduce moisture sources, including condensation and leaks.

A thorough inspection is the first step in preventing ghost ant problems. Around the outside of the house, look for places that might attract ghost ants. Move firewood piles away from the house. Pull mulch away from the foundation to create a “dry zone” that the ants (and other insects) will avoid. Make sure exterior doors close snugly. Replace weather stripping where it is missing. People who live in brick houses often place small squares of plastic screen into weep holes to keep ants from using them as entrances.

Controlling ghost ants requires time and patience. Because there can be multiple nesting sites, these ants are usually best left to a pest control professional.  To schedule a FREE pest inspection for your ghost ant problem, you can call 1-800-GO-TRULY or click here for more information.

Above content provided by Truly Nolen.

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