Ghost Ants

Tapinoma melanocephalum (Fabricus)
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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.

Pest Stats


Head and thorax dark brown; abdomen and legs pale yellowish in color




Unevenly rounded; thorax lacks spines


Workers about 1/16” (1.3-1.5 mm) long




Found in many areas of the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and the Caribbean Islands

Ghost Ant Photos

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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.


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.


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.