Ants are a common household pest that comes in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and colors. Among many ant species, ghost ants and white-footed ants are two of the most common that might be bothersome to encounter indoors. The first step in getting rid of an ant infestation is to figure out what kind of ant species you have. This will help you determine what treatment you need.
So are ghost ants and white-footed ants the same thing? The name “ghost ant” comes from their small size and pale appearance, which makes them difficult to spot. They are attracted to sweet foods, honeydew, and moist environments. On the other hand, white-footed ants are a small ant species that got their namesake from their distinct whitish-yellow feet. These ants are known for their enormous colonies, which can have up to 3 million members.
What’s the Difference Between Ghost Ants and White-footed Ants?
Ants are among the most common social insects on the planet. With over 1,000 species residing right here in North America, the ant population is believed to be between 10 and 100 quadrillions. Although ants have a similar appearance and behavior, each species is actually considerably different. Here are some key differences to look for when determining whether you have ghost ants or white-footed ants:
Because of their pale tint and small size, these ants are known as “ghost ants.” They are tropical species that originated in Africa or Asia. Florida and Hawaii are the two most common locations where ghost ants reside. This variety of ant can only thrive in greenhouses and heated locations in the northern states.
- Physical Appearance – Like pharaoh ants, ghost ants have a dark head and thorax with a dull milky white or pale translucent abdomen. Ghost ant workers have a small to the average body that measures between 1.3 and 2 mm in length, while queens are slightly larger, measuring 2.5 mm on average. When ghost ants are crushed, they emit an odor similar to that of odorous house ants.
- Behavior – Ghost ants are an invasive species that feeds on a wide variety of nutrient sources, including greasy foods and insects, but prefer sweet food. In a single colony, ghost ants have several queens and separate nests having thousands of workers. A colony can have numerous nests that easily exchange thousands of workers.
- Habitat and Nesting Habits – Ghost ants usually build their nests in holes in walls, under baseboards, between cupboards, and in the soil of potted plants. Worker ants frequently hide their tracks under carpet edges and along electrical lines in wall voids. Ghost ants can be observed trailing to water sources such as sinks, shower stalls, tubs, potted plants, and other water sources because of their high moisture needs.
- Eating Habits – Ghost ants are omnivorous, but they prefer sweet honeydew, which they obtain from plant-feeding insects. As a result, these ants hunt on aphids in order to collect honey droplets. They also consume protein-rich foods, like other live and dead insects, and can be seen carrying blood droplets.
White-footed ants are named after their extremely light-colored feet. They’re a small ant species that thrive in enormous colonies of thousands. Mature colonies can include anything from 8,000 to 3 million members, with up to 33% of them being reproductive.
- Physical Appearance – The “feet” of white-footed ants are a pale yellowish-brown color, as their name implies, while their legs and bodies are a considerably darker black or brown.
- Behavior – During the rainy season, when plant growth is at its peak, this ant species is most active. Outside infested structures, white-footed ants create a well-defined, easy-to-find pheromone trail. Ant trails frequently stick to structural guidelines such as sidewalk edges, brick building edges, ledges, and ceiling corners.
- Habitat and Nesting Habits – These ants prefer to build their nests in dead wood, but they will also enter and damage air conditioners and other electronic devices. They build their nests in stacks of wood, firewood, stones, bricks, garbage, and dense vegetation near foundations or in trees. They build their nests in wall voids, potted plants, and atriums indoors. A single colony can span a number of locations, both near and distant from a single nest.
- Eating Habits – Honeydew, a delicious sticky liquid generated by aphids and other plant pests as they eat, is a favorite food source of white-footed ants. These pesky ants are also frequent intruders into homes, looking for an abundance of food. They are particularly attracted to sugary foods or protein-rich foods.
Ghost Ants vs White-footed Ants: Which One Causes More Damage?
When ants invade a home, they can cause a variety of issues. The complications they cause are determined by the species of ant that has infiltrated. The following are some of the dangers that ghost ants and white-footed ants pose:
Ghost ants, unlike banded sugar ants, can bite for resistance or defense with a minimally unpleasant, non-poisonous bite. Unless provoked or their nests are threatened, these species rarely bite or sting. Their bites may cause some discomfort or itching, but there have been no reports of skin reactions.
However, because ghost ants have been found to nest inside homes, they can be a huge inconvenience. Their most serious consequence could be the spread of disease-causing germs. When crushed, ghost ants also emit a coconut-like odor, similar to odorous house ants.
The problem with white-footed ants comes primarily from the size of their colony. The persistence of this major pest makes them extremely difficult to exterminate. White-footed ants don’t bite or sting and do not cause structural damage.
However, because each colony of white-footed ants can have up to 3 million members, unpleasant vanishing lines frequently appear on the walls of infested homes. These ants will almost certainly infest the food of individuals who live in the residence. This is potentially even more dangerous than a direct bite.
Signs of Ghost Ants and White-footed Ants Infestation
Other than having a basic understanding of their behaviors and physical appearances, there are a few other ways to tell if you have a ghost ant or white-footed ant infestation:
Ghost Ants Infestation
To identify if a ghost ant infestation has formed, a thorough inspection of the property is necessary. Indoors, check for leaks or drips in sinks, toilets, and tubs on a regular basis. Look for ant trails along carpet edges and shoe moldings, as well as near windows and doors. Examine electrical outlets and phone jacks as well, specifically in the kitchen and bathroom.
Outdoors, pull the grass back along foundation walls and walkways to check for ghost ant trails. Any mounds, stones, bricks, logs, firewood, or debris on the ground should be turned over. It takes effort and patience to control ghost ants. Pest control specialists need to handle a ghost ant mound because not eliminating the entire colony could make the infestation worse.
A ghost ant colony frequently infiltrates homes by trailing along tree and shrub branches that are in direct contact with the property. Homeowners should keep shrubs trimmed, branches cut back, leaves and garbage cleared, and firewood stored at least 20 feet away from the house to avoid ghost ant invasions. To implement a preventative pest control strategy or address an existing problem, homeowners should consult a certified pest management professional.
White-footed Ants Infestation
Ant trails leading to and from nesting sites can indicate a white-footed ant infestation. They can also be found in moist locations such as decaying trees, ancient termite galleries, under roof shingles, and under or near skylights, kitchens, and bathrooms. White-footed ants are known to move from one location to another on plants, so inspect any new plants you buy from a nursery before taking them home.
White-footed ant prevention begins with locating the ant nest. Remove any potential harborage areas, such as mounds, rocks, wood, concrete objects, and so on, once the nest has been detected. It’s also crucial to seal any gaps or crevices on the house’s exterior. To implement a preventative pest control plan or to treat an existing infestation, consult a licensed pest management professional.
How to Get Rid of Ghost Ants and White-footed Ants
Ant extermination is a challenging operation since their nests are difficult to find and these ants are largely undetectable in the early stages of infection. Depending on the severity of the infestation, a variety of approaches can be utilized to eradicate ant colonies both indoors and outdoors.
The first step in eradicating ghost ant infestation is to identify the problems. It is vital to discover the area of infestation before taking intensive measures or utilizing a solution to eliminating the pest problem. You’ll be able to determine the ideal way for removal when you’ve located the nesting site.
1. Spray insecticides
While insecticide sprays are also used to eliminate ants colonies, they’re significantly less efficient than baits. This is due to the fact that spraying only affects the worker ants, not the entire colony. Nothing will be accomplished if the queen of the colony is not eliminated. If you use residual insecticide or granular insecticide, many periodic insecticide sessions are required to eradicate the entire colony of ants.
Insecticide sprays are widely available commercially; simply follow the instructions for the best results. For quick results, combine the ant bait approach with insecticide spray. You could also use liquid insecticide or residual insecticide to get rid of an entire colony outdoors. Locate the ghost ant mounds and spray them with 1 to 2 gallons of liquid insecticide, as directed in the product’s instruction guide.
2. Use ant bait
Ant baits are the most effective way to get rid of an ant infestation. Place them everywhere you find ants and prepare for a group of aggressive foragers. If you’re still seeing ants around the household, try a few other bait brands until you find one that works for this ant colony.
Bait treatments kill ants that feed on the sugary, sweet baits as well as larvae when scouts track it back to the colony. It is helpful in controlling ant populations. Apply gel or liquid baits to the entry points of workers after detecting ant trails and nesting sites. There are several commercially marketed sweet baits, such as granular baits and liquid baits.
You can choose the best option based on the location of the infestation. To achieve the greatest results, read the instruction manual included with the sweet baits and inspect it daily. If you have a large colony of ants in your residence or outside, you may need to replenish the bait station.
3. Hire a pest control company
Combating ants can be a difficult task without the right training and equipment. Too often, if an infestation is not adequately handled, the colony of ants might continue to grow. Some ants, such as carpenter ants, can cause major property damage, while others, such as fire ants, can harm your family’s health. Even a major pest that is considered a nuisance, such as odorous house ants, has the ability to contaminate food.
If you discover ants in your home, call a certified pest control company immediately. Pest management professionals will be able to determine the ant species, locate potential entry points, and develop a treatment plan.
Tips for Ant Infestation Prevention
In the United States, ants are the most common pest. With over 700 species of ants found across the country and more than 20 varieties known to infest homes and other structures, it’s no surprise that so many people have reported problems with this insect. There are, however, some basic precautions that homeowners can do to lessen the likelihood of unintentionally attracting ants into their homes.
1. Block off access points
It’s critical that you follow the ant trails during your inspection. Examine the exterior of your residence for potential access points. Trees and shrubs should be trimmed back from the house since their branches might provide ant pathways indoors. Silicone caulk is used to seal any crevices and cracks on the outside of the house, paying specific attention to locations where utility pipes enter. Blocking access points prevents the formation of ant trails inside the home.
2. Eliminate water sources
Reduce the amount of moisture sources and standing water in your home to help prevent ants. Repair leaking pipes and inspect under bathroom and kitchen sinks for moisture on a regular basis. In humid basements, crawl spaces, or attics, consider utilizing a dehumidifier. See to it that downspouts and gutters are in good condition so that water flows away from the foundation of the house.
3. Remove food sources
Keeping your kitchen clean and removing access to food will prevent ants from entering your home. Regularly wipe off counters and sweep floors to remove crumbs and spill residue. Refrigerate ripe fruit and store food in pest-resistant airtight containers. Wipe sticky jars down, particularly those that contain honey, syrup, soda, or other sweets. Finally, keep trash cans covered and dispose of rubbish on a regular basis.
Control Ant Infestations with Midway Pest Management
Identifying which species of ant is invading your home is a critical part of pest management. We have a team of skilled pest control professionals at Midway Pest Management that can evaluate your home and determine the severity and source of your ant infestation.
We provide a comprehensive range of expert pest control treatments to keep your home free of ants of all kinds, including big-headed ants, odorous house ants, pavement ants, acrobat ants, and more. Termites, rodents, bed bugs, and birds are just among the many pests that our experts have dealt with in the past. To learn more about our integrated pest management services or to schedule a home inspection, contact us now.
Learn More: Ghost Ants vs Termites: What’s the Difference?