Ant infestations are common in different parts of the United States. They typically show up when they need shelter from the rain or they’re looking for a stable food source. Although they’re usually found in the kitchen taking away crumbs from the floors and countertop, it’s not unusual to find lines of ants making their way into the paper books.
So why are there ghost ants in the paper books at your home? Ghost ants are resourceful and social insects that do everything they can to find food. They’re not really fond of paper, but they can gnaw through the material if it gets in the way of their food or when they can’t find other food sources.
Why Do Ghost Ants Attack Paper Books?
Ants are a common source of disgust and frustration for many homeowners in the country, making them the number 1 nuisance pest in the United States. They also attack hundreds of thousands of commercial bakeries, grocery stores, and other establishments that provide them with the things they need to survive, like food, moisture, and shelter.
Like odorous house ants, ghost ants are a common ant species that invade homes. They’re small in size (about 1/16 inch long) and pale in color (dark brown head and thorax paired with pale yellowish legs and abdomen), which makes DIY pest control difficult for many homeowners.
Although they’re not as aggressive or destructive as other household pests like rats and mice, they may still attack materials like paper, cardboard, and thin plastic that get in the way of their food.
Ghost Ants and Their Nesting Habits
Ghost ants have highly adaptable nesting habits that are similar to pharaoh ants. Their colonies are moderate to large in size with thousands of workers and multiple ant queens living across different nesting sites.
When they’re outside, ghost ants create their nest underground. They’re fond of crevices and cavities of dead trees, but they also build nests under stones, inside logs, leaf litter, or other plant debris in the yard. These ghost ants may enter buildings undetected by creating trails along sidewalks, foundation walls, and patios.
These pests may also make themselves at home inside the house. They’re usually in wall voids, between cabinets, behind baseboards, and even in the soil of potted house plants. You might also notice trails of ants along electrical wires, under carpet edges, and other obscure places that are easily missed. They tend to stay close to damp places because of their high moisture needs.
Ghost ants are tropical insects that are common in places like Central Florida and South Florida. However, these invasive species are easy to transport from one place to another through crates, potted plants, and boxes that are shipped.
Ghost Ants and Their Diet
Ghost ants prefer sweet foods, but they’re also attracted to other kinds of strong-smelling food in the kitchen or pantry. In the wild, they eat honeydew from the plant-eating aphids that they gather and feed to the entire colony.
These indoor pests also feed on dead insects and their blood. Ghost ants aren’t exactly fond of paper and cardboard like termites are, but homeowners might find them gnawing through books and piles of paper if they hinder the worker ants that are in search of food.
Ghost Ants and the Damages They Cause
Ghost ants don’t have stingers and they won’t bite unless they sense an impending threat to their nest. Most people who get bitten by these pests only feel a little discomfort and reaction to the bite. It might be painful or itchy, but it usually goes away easily.
Fortunately, ghost ants don’t cause severe structural damage to furniture and other wooden structures in the home like carpenter ants do. They also don’t pose a huge threat to household pets and the worst they could do is become carriers of bacterial pathogens and foodborne pathogens.
The trash cans at home are a buffet for these pests so make sure to check the dumpster for decaying materials. Don’t keep these bins full for too long that they start attracting ghost ants. The microorganisms from the garbage may cling to the ghost ant’s body and feet, which might contaminate the food you’ll eat as these invasive pests walk all over it.
How to Find and Eliminate Ghost Ants at Home
Ghost ants are difficult to spot and eliminate because of their size and pale color, but there are a few steps you can take to get rid of them or ensure that they can’t enter:
Step 1: Look for Signs of Ant Activity
When homeowners spot an ant or two in their kitchen, they simply crush it with their finger and don’t think much of it. But once these indoor pests start appearing in more numbers around the kitchen and other parts of the house, it might be a sign of ant infestation that needs immediate treatment by a trusted pest control company.
The best way to keep the house ant-free is to find the infestation in its early stages and eliminate the ants before they start causing more problems. Make sure to watch out for these signs of ant activity in the house if you suspect an ant infestation somewhere in the property:
- Piles of Dirt – Ant nests are easy to miss sometimes because they just look like a random pile of soil in the garden. Make sure to check the yard or the basement for possible ant mounds and raised humps. Once you find them, avoid touching them because the ants might start attacking you instead.
- Ant Pathways – Ants produce pheromones in their path to create a trail from their nest to the food source. This allows other ants in the colony to follow them and forage. These trails may be found inside or outside the house and lead you to one of their nests.
- Rustling Noises Inside Walls – Scurrying sounds inside walls are never a good sign for homeowners because it means there’s some kind of pest infesting the property. Ants are one of the reasons why there are rustling noises in the walls. Check the wallpaper for rips that might serve as an entry point for these pests after hearing the rustling noises in the walls.
Step 2: Search for Trails and Nests
After seeing these white-footed ants, the next step is to find their nest or main colony. Ants use their antennae to pick up the pheromones or scent trails left by other ants. This means that the same trail a certain group of ants uses to get to the food source also leads to their nest.
Upon finding their nest, avoid touching it to prevent triggering the ants. Some of the best places to look for ghost ant nests are wall voids, baseboards, spaces between cabinets, and inside potted plants.
Step 3: Use Natural Repellents
There are many ways to try and eliminate the ghost ants at home, like natural repellents and store-bought pesticides. It all depends on the severity of the infestation and the homeowner’s preferred pest control method.
Homemade remedies are the preferred option for many homeowners because they’re safe and accessible. However, it’s important to remember that this option usually requires time and patience. Here are some of the most effective home remedies for the ants at home:
- Vinegar and Water – The strong smell of vinegar messes with the ant’s trail, leaving them lost and confused about where they’re going.
- Lemon Juice – The citrusy scent of lemon juice works the same way as vinegar in repelling ghost ants in the house.
- Mint – Like most insects, ants also hate the strong smell of mint so place a few drops of peppermint essential oil and leave it in areas where ants might pass through.
- Cinnamon – This is a great option to kill ants. The pests suffocate and dry once they get a whiff of cinnamon so make sure to sprinkle ground cinnamon around anthills.
- Diatomaceous Earth – This food-grade powder is derived from fossilized marine phytoplankton. It has microscopic sharp edges that cut the ant’s exoskeleton, causing their bodies to dry out until they die.
In addition to natural repellents, homeowners may also try luring the ghost ants out of the nearby nest using a sweet bait like sugar or a fresh bait like fruits. Mix a part of the bait with borax to kill off the ghost ants that attempt to take it.
Although they’re effective to some extent, these natural repellents aren’t enough to eliminate the entire colony. Homeowners might still need the help of a pest control company to get rid of the pests for good.
Step 4: Re-Inspect Your Home
Most home repellents require multiple applications every few days, so it’s important to regularly check the same spots to see if the ant activity stopped. Re-inspections are extremely crucial because there’s a huge chance that the surviving ghost ants build a new nest if they manage to escape from the pest control efforts.
Step 5: Clean Your Home
Cleaning the house regularly is also another essential habit that homeowners should adapt because it reduces the risk of re infestations after the ant extermination by a pest management professional. Without moist areas and food crumbs in the property, ants won’t have a good reason to get inside the house.
Call Midway Pest Management for Your Ant Infestations at Home
Homemade remedies only work for a handful of ghost ants, so it’s better to call pest control professionals when you’re dealing with severe ant infestations. At Midway Pest Management, we help homeowners get rid of the ants inside and outside their homes using integrated pest management (IPM) methods.
We make sure to consider the location of the ant nest and the pest’s behavior to develop a customized treatment plan that eliminates the ghost ants and prevents them from returning.
Contact us now to schedule a free inspection for your property.