August 15, 2015

Ghost Ants

Nylanderia, the hairy crazy ant

Ghost ants get their common name from the fact that they are very hard to see due to their pale color and tiny size. They are a tropical species, probably of African or Asian origin. In the United States, ghost ants are found primarily in central and southern Florida and Hawaii. This type of ant is unable to survive in the northern states except in greenhouses and heated spaces.

Habits
Ghost ants are highly adaptable in their nesting habits, which seem to be similar to those of pharaoh ants. Colonies of ghost ants are moderate to large in size and can contain thousands of workers and numerous functional queens distributed across multiple nesting sites.

Ghost ants are very fond of honeydew. They also feed on dead and living insects. Inside, ghost ants show a preference to sweet foods and are most commonly found in kitchens.

Habitat
Outside, ghost ants make their nest in the ground. They prefer cavities and crevices in dead tree branches, but will also nest under stones, inside logs and within piles of leaves and other debris. Ghost ants will readily enter structures by trailing from nests along sidewalks, patios and foundation walls.

Inside, ghost ants typically nest in wall voids, behind baseboards, between cabinets and inside the soil of potted plants. Workers often trail under carpet edges and along electrical wires in wall voids where they are hidden from view. Because of their high moisture needs, ghost ants can also be found trailing to water sources such as sinks, shower stalls, tubs, potted plants, etc.

Threats
Ghost ants do not sting, as they lack a stinger. However, ghost ants can become a serious nuisance because they are known to nest inside homes. Similar to odorous house ants, ghost ants give off a coconut-like odor when they are crushed.