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ants on sugar cube

Ghost Ants vs. Sugar Ants: Is There a Difference?

Ever found yourself playing host to an uninvited ant party in your pantry? Welcome to Florida, where ghost ants flirt with your sugar bowl, and "sugar ants" isn't just a term—it's a lifestyle.

But hold up, are we talking about two members of the ant paparazzi here, or is it just a case of mistaken identity? Turns out, ghost ants are the VIPs in the sugar ant saga.

So, let's get into the world of these pale party crashers and figure out how to send them packing for a chill, ant-free home vibe.

Key Takeaways

  • "Ghost ants" and "sugar ants" often refer to the same thing, with ghost ants being a specific type of ant that likes sweets.
  • Ghost ants can be identified by their pale legs and abdomen, dark head and thorax, and preference for warm, humid nesting sites.
  • Signs of a ghost ant infestation include visible ant trails, increased ant activity in warm conditions, and spotting antennae poking out from nesting sites.
  • DIY pest control methods, such as homemade baits mixing borax with powdered sugar or peanut butter, can be effective against ghost ants.
  • Professional pest control services offer comprehensive solutions for severe infestations, including expert inspections and specialized bait stations.

Are Ghost Ants and Sugar Ants Really Different?

In the world of ants, the terms "ghost ants" and "sugar ants" often lead to confusion.

Interestingly, "sugar ants" isn't a scientific designation but a colloquial term encompassing various sweet-loving ant species. Especially notable in Florida, it includes ghost ants.

It means ghost ants and sugar ants necessarily aren't two different things, with ghost ants being a prime example of what many people might refer to as sugar ants due to their dietary preferences.

Identifying Ghost Ants

ghost ants

Recognizing ghost ants from other types of ants, such as pavement ants, is vital for managing infestations effectively in Florida’s climates.

Here’s how you can distinguish this species of ants by their unique physical characteristics and behaviors:




Exhibit distinctive pale, almost translucent legs and abdomen with a dark brown head and thorax.


They are tiny ants, usually about 1.3 to 1.5 mm long.

Habitat Preferences

Often found in wall voids, behind baseboards, or in the soil of potted plants indoors.

Nest Building

Prefer building their new nests in warm, humid environments.

Colony Behavior

Highly adaptable and capable of rapidly establishing new ghost ant colonies indoors.

Food Sources

Attracted to sweet substances and proteins, including syrups and honeydew produced by aphids.

How to Spot Signs of Infestations

Detecting ghost ant infestations involves looking for specific signs, such as ant trails and unusual ant activity. These indicators can alert you to the need for action.

Identifying Ant Trails

  • Look for long lines of ants, sometimes with larvae, moving along paths commonly across baseboards, wall voids, or crevices.
  • Trails are typically most active when worker ants are foraging for food, like pet food or crumbs.
  • Ants use pheromones to communicate and maintain established trails, which can lead to other types, like black ants, pharaoh ants, or odorous house ants, forming new colonies.

Nesting Sites

  • Inside: Check common indoor locations like wall voids, beneath baseboards, and any crevices within the structure.
  • Outside: Inspect around the foundations of homes, under pavement slabs, or in protectively warm greenhouses.

Ant Activity

  • Increased activity during warm conditions when ants venture out to forage.
  • Spotting antennae poking out of nesting sites can indicate a nearby nest.
  • Signs of carpenter ants include wood shavings and smooth galleries inside wood structures.

How to Get Rid of Ants

DIY methods often provide efficient and cost-effective solutions when tackling an ant problem.

As homeowners, you can combat infestations of these ants with dark heads by creating homemade baits and maintaining a clean environment.

Homemade Ant Baits

A DIY approach to pest control for ghost ants involves preparing homemade baits that appeal to their appetite for sweets and proteins.

Here are two types of recipe you can create as an effective bait:

Type of Recipe


Sweet Bait

Mix 1 part borax with 3 parts powdered sugar. Dissolve this mixture in water to create a syrupy consistency.

Protein Bait

Combine 1 part borax with 3 parts peanut butter for ants that prefer protein food. Ensure the mixture is well-blended.


After choosing the type of recipe, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Place the bait in small sizes near ant trails or where you've spotted ants entering the home.

  2. Replace baits every 2-3 days to maintain their effectiveness.

  3. Seal entry points with caulking to prevent these small ants from returning.

Maintaining a Clean Environment

Cleanliness is vital in preventing ant infestations. Implement these strategies as an ant control to keep them at bay:


Action To Take

Wipe surfaces.

Regularly clean counters and floors to remove crumbs and spills.

Store food securely.

Use airtight containers for food storage, particularly sweet foods that attract ants.

Manage water sources.

Fix leaky faucets and ensure areas under sinks are dry, as ants seek water.

Landscape with care.

Trim back any plants touching the house to remove ant pathways. Control aphid populations in the garden as they produce honeydew, a favorite of ants.

Dispose of trash properly.

Take out the garbage regularly and keep bins clean and closed to avoid luring ants.

Professional Pest Control Services

As homeowners in Florida, knowing how to get rid of ghost ants may not suffice.

Especially for complex infestations with other pests like termites or fire ants, hiring professional exterminators is more practical.

However, you should consider this checklist before hiring one:

  • Confirm if ant infestation requires expert help.
  • Research local pest control companies.
  • Ensure the company offers a free inspection.
  • Ask about the control methods used.
  • Inquire about the availability of an entomologist.
  • Understand the types of insecticides applied.
  • Check for service guarantees.

Is It Time to Call the Experts?

Whatever you call those sweet-loving ants that turn kitchen countertops into their playground, it's a sign that friendly DIY remedies might be falling short.

Ghost ants are tenacious, and if they've thrown a house party in the pantry, it could spell trouble. If they're not swayed by your stern hand, it might be time for a pro.

Professional pest control companies (like us, Native Pest Management) have tricks up their sleeves and more effective bait stations to evict these uninvited guests.

Remember, it's a battle against tiny sugar lovers, not a war. A quick call could turn the tide in favor of a peaceful coexistence – sans ants.