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Ghost ants look like tiny, white apparitions who suddenly appear and seem to disappear just as quickly. Workers are are 1/16 inch/1.5 mm in length. The legs, pedicel, gaster, and antennae are pale, almost translucent, in color and the head and thorax are darker. For this reason, the ghost ant is also known in some areas as the black-headed ant.
Ghost ants maintain colonies with multiple queens and many thousands of workers. New colonies are formed by budding. They form super colonies that readily intermingle without hostility to ants from nearby nests. Warm temperatures are necessary for ghost ant survival.
Workers have the habit of running rapidly and erratically when disturbed. They are fond of honeydew and tend honeydew-excreting insects. They also feed on both dead and live insects . When workers are found trailing, their movement is more slow and deliberate. On close inspection some trailing workers can be seen carrying brood larvae and pupae. They will enter structures from nests near foundations or from plants that contact the building .
The ghost ant, is believed to have its origin in either the Orient or Afro tropical regions. This is a tramp species, introduced through human commerce into the United States and is now established in a number of locations in southern and central Florida. It has also been found indoors in more temperate climates in Texas, Iowa, Oregon, and Winnipeg, Canada. It occurs in Hawaii, the Caribbean islands and throughout tropical regions of the world. The worker caste is monomorphic and extremely small, ranging from 0.05 to 0.06 in. long. The ants are bi-colored; the head and thorax are dark brown to black and the gaster, pedicel, legs, and antennae are milky white to yellowish white. It is sometimes referred to as the black-headed ant.
Primarily an outdoor ant, like most tramp ant species, it selects highly variable sites for nesting. They can nest in warm climates in the soil in protected places, in debris, in crotches of trees, in and under logs and tree limbs, stones and other objects on the ground. Indoors they will nest in any available protected cavity. They forage on set trails.
Foragers in kitchens and bathrooms on sinks, counters, and floors. Indoor colonies can be controlled with baits. Access of foragers entering from outdoors through cracks and crevices or screens should be restricted with barrier sprays.
Life Cycle :Colonies of ghost ants tend to be moderate to large in size and multiple queens are present.New colonies are started by â€śbuddingâ€ť where one or more reproductive females, several workers, and possibly some brood(larvae and pupae) migrate to a new nesting site. Their biology is similar to the Pharoah ant.Ghost ants are found in warm climates and can be a big problem in tropical areas of the world.
Management :The best approach to ant control in the home is cleanliness. Any type of food or food particles can attract and provide food for ants. Store food in tight containers. Remove plants that can attract ants or control aphids, whiteflies and other insects that produce honeydew. Reduce moisture sources, including condensation and leaks.If possible, follow the trails of this species back to the nest and treat the nest. If treating the trails with bait check within one or two days to see if the ants are feeding. If not, relocate the bait. Indoor colonies nesting within voids can be controlled with baits. Access of foragers entering from outdoors through cracks and crevices or screens should be restricted with barrier sprays.
Damage : Thefire antâ€™s sting is a serious concern to people and their pets. Fire ants attack anything that disturbs their mound (nest). They firmly grasp skin with their jaws, and then sting and inject venom.Fire ants pivot at the head and inflict more stings in a circular pattern. The sting of a fire ant develops into a pustule(small, firm blister-like sore) in 24-48 hours.These pustules can become sites of secondary infection. Fire ant venom may cause a severe reaction in hypersensitive individuals,including nausea, shock, chest pains, and in rare cases, coma.
Prevention/Treatment : Be aware â€“ donâ€™t stand on ant nests or areas where they are foraging. Wear boots and/or tuck pant legs into your socks to reduce the risk of bite/sting. If attacked, leave area immediately while brushing off ants with the use of a gloved hand or by using a cloth.Consult your pharmacist for treatment of minor bites and irritation.Seek immediate medical attention, particularly if you feel short of breath or have swelling.
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