Want to know how to get rid of ghost ants in South Florida? If you have little white ants or clear ants crawling around your kitchen, you probably have ghost ants. These adaptable white ants in Florida are a common household invader that homeowners struggle to eliminate on their own. With the right pest control methods, you can rid your property of these pesky intruders.
Ghost ants (often mistaken or referred to as "sugar ants") are tiny, white insects with a yellow translucent tint that can infest your indoor spaces. You may find it difficult to see these pests because of their small size and transparent or clear-like coloring, which can mean that an infestation may go unchecked for a long time. Luckily, their head and thorax are slightly darker in color, making them easier to see. Workers are around one-sixteenth of an inch in length. They seek out moisture and food, making them commonly found in kitchens and bathrooms in your home.
Reproduction and Nesting
If you have ghost ants in your home, you may have a nest in your yard, bushes, or trees. Ghost ant colonies are medium to large in size, and a single colony may have multiple queens. Often new colonies are started by a process called budding. When budding occurs, one or more reproductive females, workers, and brood may migrate together to a new nesting site. Budding can make it challenging to eliminate ghost ants from your home or yard. Sometimes if treatment is done incorrectly, it might cause budding to occur, and they may be able to establish new nests that can lead to a more extensive infestation.
These ants easily adapt to new nesting sites. They can find spots to establish a new nest under bark, clogged gutters, leaf litter and yard debris, bases of planters, or tufts of grass. They like most areas with damp and decaying organic material, sugary food, or moisture. They may even nest indoors between baseboards or in cabinets and wall voids. Their versatile nesting practices make them difficult to eliminate from your property.
Diet and Distribution
These insects primarily eat sweets, fats, oils, proteins, and grease. They also eat after insects that excrete honeydew, a sticky and sugary liquid secreted by insects, such as aphids, planthoppers, and scale insects, after feeding on plants. They thrive in tropical climates and are present throughout South Florida.
Ghost Ants vs. Sugar Ants
“Sugar ants” is a generic term that people use to describe any small ant attracted to sweets. In South Florida, when a homeowner reports sugar ant activity, we find that most often they are referring to the ghost ant, but sometimes it could also be white footed ant, thief ant, pharaoh ant, or others. But ghost ants are distinguished from other ants by their transparent-like yellow-white bodies and darker heads.
What Attracts Ghost Ants
Ants come to your home looking to forage for nourishment. Like any good sugar ant, ghost ants enjoy sweet drinks, syrups, as well as food crumbs, debris or spillage around your kitchen. They also like moist areas with access to water, such as bathrooms, basements, greenhouses, kitchens, or near leaky appliances. These sweet feeders may also infest plants, where they eat after the honeydew-secreting plant feeders.
Search for Trails
You may have seen the ghost ants in your home trailing after one another. Ants lay down pheromone scent trails to indicate to one another the locations of food or shelter within your home. Ants use their antennae to detect these trails and follow them from their nest to their established entry points into your home and into your kitchen. They also follow these trails back to the nest once they are done foraging. Following these trails can provide useful information. You may be able to determine how they are entering your home and locate their nest. You can then proceed with sealing off entry points and applying treatments to the nest. If there are multiple nests and entry points, you may need to go through this process more than once. For these reasons, a professional is often needed to fully eliminate ghost ants.
Ghost Ants in Your Yard
Ghost ants are attracted to insects that feed on plant material around your property because ghost ants like to feed off of the sugary secretion called honeydew that is produced by these plant feeders. So you may find ghost ants in the shrubs surrounding your house. Effective pest control may require the elimination of honeydew-secreting insects from your property.
If the trees or shrubs where ghost ants are feeding come into direct contact with the building structure of your home, the ants will use the branches as a bridge. From there, they may be able to find an entry point and infest your home through tiny cracks and crevices in doors, windows, roofs, and vents.
Why DIY Doesn’t Work on Ghost Ants
Some homeowners reach for store-bought ant sprays at the first sign of ants. This treatment is unlikely to be effective against ghost ants if not applied correctly. If the wrong product is selected, or the product is applied incorrectly, budding may occur and result in the ants splitting into sub-colonies. That can mean multiple thriving colonies on your property instead of just one. If those colonies make their way into your home, the infestation may get worse.
Ant baits can be effective for ghost ants, but even baits need to be applied in the correct quantities and chosen and placed correctly, based on the characteristics of the home and infestation. This is where consulting with a professional pest control company is critical.
How to Get Rid of Ghost Ants
Every pest control strategy for ghost ants should be tailored to your home. An effective plan for eliminating these unwanted home invaders should consider:
- How the ants access the home
- The other insects around the property
- The ants’ access to food and water sources indoors
- The proximity of trees and shrubs to your home’s exterior
- The needs of the members of your household
- The location of nests
Any plan that does not address these factors may not be effective at getting rid of ghost ants. Even if you can eliminate these pests, they or other insects may infest your home in the future, so recurring inspection and maintenance treatment is required to keep a bug-free home.
An experienced ghost ant technician can develop a customized plan for eliminating the ghost ants in your home. Effective pest control requires several different tactics:
- Correctly identifying the ghost ants
- Placing an adequate number of ant baits indoors
- Locating the potential entry points
- Homeowners making sure to clean the kitchen frequently to eliminate food sources
- Minimizing trash and clutter
- Limiting the moisture in your home by addressing leaky appliances and wiping down sinks, tubs, etc.
- Trimming shrubs and trees near your home’s exterior
- Removing plant debris from your yard
- Eliminating the honeydew-producing insects that ghost ants feed on
- Applying exterior sprays and bait to act as a barrier to prevent ants from returning
- Advising you on the best practices for preventing future infestations
- Using products that are people and pet friendly
This multipronged strategy may be too much work for many homeowners, prompting many to hire a professional pest control company. South Florida is the perfect habitat for many insects, including the ghost ant. The heat, humidity, and rainfall are all factors that can lead to infestation. Because of this, it is important to know that a ghost ant infestation may require a technician to visit your home for multiple treatments.
Just Call Hulett
At Hulett, we see ghost ants every day, and we want to help you get rid of them as soon as possible. Our experienced and informed technicians know how to craft an effective strategy for eliminating these irritating pests. Education and training are the heart of our business, which is why we update our technicians on the most effective and up-to-date methods for pest control in South Florida. We use a variety of treatment methods to ensure that the ants do not come back. Our technicians will patiently address any questions or concerns you may have. Plus, we offer free inspections. When you have little white ants in your Florida home, Just Call Hulett.