• Michael Perrino

How to Eliminate Ghost Ants Without Contaminating the Kitchen

Updated: May 2

Ants are unwanted household pests that take the food in your kitchen and create nests in the walls. While there are other pests like rats, mice, and cockroaches that are more harmful and destructive, ants should also be eliminated immediately before they contaminate all the food in the kitchen and pantry.

So what are the best ways to get rid of ghost ants that won’t contaminate the kitchen? Homeowners can safely eradicate the ghost ants in their kitchens by eliminating their food source, blocking all possible entry points, finding their nest and destroying it, or using natural ant deterrents. But if the ant invasions are severe, then it’s better to hire a pest control operator to eradicate entire colonies.


Why Ghost Ants Are In Your Kitchen

According to the National Pest Management Association, kitchens are one of the most vulnerable areas to an ant infestation with about 96% of the ants treated by pest management professionals found in kitchens. Ants like staying in the house’s kitchen because it’s got everything they need to survive like food and water.

One of the most common ant species that infiltrate the kitchen counter, floor, and sink is the ghost ant (Tapinoma melanocephalum). These indoor pests are difficult to see because of their small size and pale color.


Ghost ants only have one main colony with multiple satellite nests nearby. Each colony houses thousands of workers and multiple ant queens distributed across their many nesting sites inside the foundation wall, leaf litter, and other obscure places.


These ghost ants also emit a distinct scent of rotten coconuts when crushed like an odorous house ant. These social insects love eating honeydew created by aphids, but they may also find their way inside to find stashes of sweets or greasy food if necessary. Female worker ants usually head out in search of food once they undergo complete metamorphosis.

Ghost ants may enter the kitchen once they find cracks, holes, and other entry points like tree branches or the gap between floors and windows. The area is a paradise for the worker ants and other kinds of ants because of the food crumbs and sugary foods everywhere. They also love moisture so they naturally gravitate to the kitchen sink drain when they get inside.

4 Safe Ways to Get Rid of Ghost Ants in the Kitchen


The last thing homeowners want to see in their kitchen are ghost ant colonies in the pantry. Aside from being unhygienic, having common household ants that search for food in the sink, countertop, and other parts of the kitchen may be dangerous.


Worker ants don’t cause structural damage like rats, termites, carpenter ants, and other household pests do. But since these pests crawl anywhere and everywhere, they may become potential vectors of foodborne pathogens and other diseases.

Eliminating the ghost ants in kitchen is challenging without the right knowledge of appropriate ant controls. Homeowners can’t spray pesticides all over the place and risk contaminating good food, so they have to find and try different ways to safely eradicate the ghost ants.


Here are some tips to keep the kitchen countertops free of ghost ants and other ant species:


1. Eliminating Their Food Source


This step is an effective method for getting rid of ants and keeping them away. Make sure to clean spills and food remains to limit their access to food. Homeowners should also store their food and leftovers properly inside sealed plastic bags and airtight food storage.

Ghost ants have a wide range of food preferences. They’re attracted to sweet and starchy food like honey, sugar, and cornmeal, but they also eat anything available to them including dead insects and pet food. Make sure to wipe all spills, splatters, and smears in the kitchen as soon as they appear.


2. Blocking All Entry Points

Another way to naturally get rid of ghost ants in the kitchen is to block their entry points. Although it’s difficult to seal all cracks and holes in the house, try to cover as much as you can in the kitchen.


Once you see the ghost ants in the kitchen, follow their pheromone trail to find the entry point they’re using. Check around the windows, screens, frames, and doors for cracks and crevices that ants may use to enter.


3. Finding Their Nest and Destroying It

Homeowners may also use the pheromone trail to find the ant nest and destroy it. Ghost ants emit pheromones that allow other ants to follow their pathway from the ant colony to the food source and back, so it’s best to use it to your advantage and look for nesting sites nearby. If you can’t find an ant trail, try luring them out with sweet bait then follow them back into their nest.

Upon finding the ant nest, it’s important to leave it be at first to avoid angering the ants and getting bitten. Return to the ant nest with the right equipment to destroy it using ant killer spray. Home remedies like boiling water, boric acid, and diatomaceous earth are also effective in killing ghost ants.


4. Using Natural Ant Deterrents

Even after blocking the entry points of ants, some of them may still find their way inside and wreak havoc in the kitchen. In such cases, it’s better to apply a natural ant deterrent around the kitchen to keep them from entering. Some effective natural ant repellents are cinnamon, curry powder, salt, pepper, and chalk.

However, it’s important to be extra careful when using these deterrents because some of them may irritate a child or pet’s skin, mouth, nose, or eyes. Instead of sprinkling the powdered ant repellent around the kitchen, it’s better to opt for essential oils and put a few drops of them in a cotton ball. Place the cotton ball in the corners of drawers and cabinets to repel ghost ants.

Some homeowners also opt for anti-ant sprays, which are usually a mixture of different varieties of readily available products like peppermint oil, lemon juice, and vinegar. Dilute any of these liquids with water then put it in a spray bottle before applying it around the kitchen. Wipe some of the essential oils or ant spray solution in the common pathways of ants to keep them out.


Natural and Homemade Products To Eliminate Ants


There are tons of natural remedies that the internet suggests to use, but only a handful of them actually work. Here are some of the most effective homemade products to help eliminate some of the ghost ants in the kitchen safely:


1) Boiling Water

Boiling water is an excellent way to kill ghost ants in the kitchen. Just carefully pour the hot water on the group of ants in the kitchen or directly on their colony. Although it’s effective, boiling water won’t be enough to wipe out the entire colonies.


A single nest of ghost ants might require multiple boiling water applications to even put a dent in their population. Homeowners should also be extra careful when using boiling water because it can scald the skin if poured incorrectly.


2) Diatomaceous Earth

This is the go-to natural option that kills different kinds of pests, including most species of ants. Diatomaceous earth is made from fossilized remains of aquatic microorganisms so it’s safe for the environment.


It also comes in a food-grade kind that homeowners can use at home and in their kitchen. The powdered form of diatomaceous earth has razor-sharp edges that cut through the exoskeleton of ants, causing them to dehydrate, dry off, and die.


3) Boric Acid and Borax

Both borax and boric acid have the same chemical composition, but they’re used for different purposes in a household. Boric acid is mainly used as a pesticide while borax is utilized for cleaning.


However, borax may still be an effective ant killer if there’s no boric acid around. These substances kill off ants by eroding the stomachs and outer shells of ants that manage to ingest them. It can be mixed with fresh bait or sweet bait to lure ants out of hiding.

But out of the natural repellents used for eliminating ants, boric acid and borax are known to be mildly toxic so make sure to avoid putting it anywhere pets or children might reach.


4) Vinegar

This food ingredient is also used as a home remedy to get rid of ants and repel other household pests. White vinegar is diluted with water and sprayed around the kitchen where ghost ants frequently pass.


The strong acidic smell of vinegar interferes with the pheromones released by the ants. This causes most of them to get lost on their way from the food sources and back to ghost ant colonies. Just make sure to reapply the vinegar solution every once in a while to keep ants away.


Is it Safe to Use Commercial Ant Sprays in the Kitchen?


Most commercial pesticides are made with harsh chemicals that may harm the family and environment if mishandled. Some of them also leave residues in the treatment areas, so using an ant control product might only contaminate the food in the kitchen.

Some manufacturers offer safer options, but it’s better to use natural solutions available at home to destroy the nesting locations nearby if you’re unfamiliar with using ant pesticides. Another way to get rid of the ants in the kitchen safely and effectively is to call a pest control operator that utilizes IPM-based control efforts.


When to Call a Pest Control Company for the Ghost Ants in the Kitchen


Finding a few ants in the kitchen is normal, but it might be a huge cause for concern if it happens too frequently. If you find more and more ghost ants paying a visit to the pantry, sinks, and countertops to gather food crumbs and leftovers, then it might be a sign of a ghost ant infestation nearby.

Check around the house for different signs of ant activity then try using homemade repellents to keep them out. If the ghost ants are still getting inside, then it’s best to leave this kind of pest problem in the hands of a pest management professional.


Keep Your Kitchen Ant-Free with Midway Pest Management

Midway Pest Management is a locally owned pest control company that helps different households and businesses in Kansas City and other nearby areas with their pest problems. Our team of highly skilled pest exterminators creates a specific pest control plan for your needs.


We always make sure to take the circumstances into account when using proactive pest control methods and getting rid of the ghost ant infestation. You can trust us to safely keep the kitchen pest-free for a long time. Contact us now to book a free inspection for your property.


Learn More: Why Are Ghost Ants Getting Into Paper Books?


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