Ghost Ants

Tampinoma melanocephalum

Ghost ants are known as "ghosts" because when they run around on light surfaces their transparent abdomens and legs seem to vanish; leaving just the dark head and thorax visible. On darker surfaces, all you see are pale patches moving about.

Ghost Ants
Color Dark head & thorax; pale abdomen & legs
Legs 6
Shape One node segment, hidden under abdomen; uneven thorax no spines
Size 1/16th inch long
Antennae True


These ants can develop very large colonies, with many queens, and colonies can divide or split through a budding process similar to the pharaoh ant and white-footed ant. Ghost ants readily enter buildings, usually by trailing from nests along guidelines, such as foundations or via branches. Ghost ants will enter structures from ground to roof levels. Workers run rapidly and erratically, trailing along edges and corners. Indoor trails are hidden, under carpet edges and along electrical wires in wall voids. Because ghost ants have high moisture needs, they often trail to sinks, wash basins, commodes and shower stalls. Outdoor trails can be found behind grass and/or mulch lining sidewalks, patios and foundations walls.


These ants generally nest outdoors under mulch, rocks, boards or other items, or under loose bark of trees and in lumber and firewood piles.


This ant does not bite or sting, or cause any structural damage, but many homeowners consider it a nuisance due to their frequent foraging bathrooms and around exteriors of homes or buildings.


Eliminate standing water. Pests, such as Ghost Ants are attracted to moisture. Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house. Sometimes pests use these branches to get into your home. Make sure that there are no cracks or little openings around the bottom of your house. Sometimes pests use these to get into your home. Make sure that firewood and building materials are not stored next to your home. Pests like to build nests in stacks of wood.

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