Ghost Ants vs Termites: What’s the Difference?

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Ants and termites are often mistaken for one another. Although they have different ways of interfering with human activities, both insects can cause disturbances. Whether these disturbances cause minimal or severe damage, the first step of pest control treatment is to identify which species is responsible.

So what exactly is the difference between ghost ants and termites? Ants are often considered irritation, whereas termites are generally known for their ability to do significant structural damage. Termites, unlike ants, have a strict cellulose diet. Ghost ants are known for their sweet tooth and are drawn to sweet foods like fruit, sugar, and honey, as well as greasy foods like peanut butter.

How to Tell Ghost Ants and Termites Apart

Termites and ants are two different species of insects that share some traits. They each have unique issues that necessitate specific treatment options. When it comes to ghost ants and termites, one may be seen in the open, but the other is more subtle yet can cause significant damage to a home. Whether you need to get rid of ghost ant colonies or hire a termite exterminator, it’s important to understand the differences between the two.

Physical Differences

A closer examination of the insect in question reveals physical differences between termites and ghost ants that make them easy to distinguish. Use a magnifying glass to examine the insect closely, or shine a strong light on it to see it with your naked eye.


You can tell if the species you’re trying to identify is an ant or a termite by looking at the antennae. Termites have straight antennae, unlike ants, which have elbowed or bent antennae. Although it may appear to be a minor distinction, it is sufficient to distinguish the insects so that extermination or other pest control services can be provided if necessary.

Body Shapes

When comparing the bodies of termites and ants up close, you’ll see that the abdomen of a termite lacks a defined and narrow waist. Termites are rectangular and have a broad waist. On the other hand, ants have a well-defined, pinched shape. Each insect’s body shape can help you tell which pest is present if you inspect both insects closely.


If you’ve spent any time outside, you’ve probably encountered ants in your yard or in other outdoor spaces. You’ve probably noticed their dark-colored bodies. Ants are dark red to black in color and are usually seen gathering and scavenging for food in the open.

Termites, on the other hand, are translucent and light-colored or white in hue, and they avoid light. They tend to concentrate in dark places, so you’re unlikely to have spotted them outside unless you’ve been deliberately looking for them.


The ghost ants don’t have wings, but they can travel about thanks to their translucent legs and two antennas. In contrast, termites have wings that are both the same length as their bodies and some that are much longer. Termites also have very delicate wings that can easily fall off. If you notice dropped wings in your home, it could suggest a termite infestation.

Behavioral Differences

You can tell if you’re dealing with ants or termites by looking at their behavior and the structures they make in addition to looking at their physical appearances.


Although ghost ants do not sting, they do bite. They are not hostile, however, and might only bite if their nest is attacked. Ghost ant bites are barely detectable and pose minimal health threats. The only danger that ghost ants represent is the possibility of food contamination. Because ants don’t chew wood, they’re unlikely to cause any substantial structural damage to your property.

Termites, on the other hand, eat mostly wood, paper, and other cellulose-rich objects and can cause serious damage to a home. If you discover wood damage on your property, you should see a professional to check if termites are responsible. Other signs of a termite infestation include piles of sawdust or wood pellets.

Food Source

Ants are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals in their diet. They’re also drawn to the debris of sweet foods and greasy foods, which is why you might have noticed a swarm of ants swarming over trash in a public garbage can or near a pet food bowl. An ant may leave a scent trail composed of various pheromones, and chemical compounds that other ants can follow to the source of food.

Termites, on the other hand, only eat cellulose-rich materials like wood and paper. They’re more likely to be found in cellulose-rich materials including drywall, cardboard, insulation, and wood. The majority of lower termites, as well as many higher termites, consume undamaged or partially rotted wood. Foragers or harvesters are termites that collect and devour grass, leaves, and straw.

Nesting Locations

Both indoors and out, ghost ants make their homes near warm, damp areas. Nests are built in the ground, cracks, holes, firewood, logs, beneath stones, piles, leaves, pavements, and wall gaps by outdoor colonies. Ghost ants can be discovered in walls, behind cabinets, plant pots, bathrooms, kitchens, beneath carpets, and in other areas of the house.

Termites construct nests that are both discrete and concentrated. Termite galleries and tunnels could have a rough, even ragged appearance due to mud tubes. Some termite nests are partially above ground, such as mounds or hills, while others are completely underground or arboreal. Nests are made of dirt, small clay particles, or chewed wood bonded together with saliva or excreta. Termites deposit feces to seal particles in place during nest construction.

Life Span

An ant’s life cycle is divided into the following stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. While queen ants can live for years, worker ants only live for a few months on average. Termites, on the other hand, have a significantly longer life cycle. Common termites only live for a few years, but queen termites might live for decades.

Termites have a longer life cycle than ants, with phases such as egg, larva, nymph, molting, and complete maturity. Termites outlive ants due to their longer life cycle and colony size and social order.

Eliminating the Ghost Ant or Termite Infestation

With termite season just around the corner, it’s crucial to know the difference between an ant and a termite. Understanding the difference between termite damage and an ant infestation can help you and your pest control company manage a possible pest infestation more efficiently, saving you time and money.

Ghost Ant Extermination

Because of unsanitary conditions or desirable nesting sites, ghost ants are enticed into your home. They reproduce and create separate colonies indoors in holes, cracks, cupboards, and under sinks, among others. Additionally, ghost ant colonies also form outdoors in potted plants, under loose logs, piles, and the like. As a result, you should take steps to eliminate the ghost ant infestation before it becomes a major problem.

Because their nests are difficult to identify and these ants are usually undetectable in the early stages of infection, eradicating ghost ants is considered a challenging undertaking. Depending on the severity of the infestation, a variety of treatments can be utilized to eradicate ghost ant colonies both indoors and outdoors.

  • Natural Insecticides – Diatomaceous earth, boric acid, baking powder, and other inexpensive, natural, and frequently homemade ant killers may either cling to the ants as they travel through, dehydrating them till death, or poisoning them once consumed.
  • Ant Bait – Instead of spraying with a standard repellant residual spray, baiting is the most dependable technique to destroy the entire colony. It is advisable to pick between sugar-based and protein-based ant baits when selecting baits. Use a slow-acting bait while baiting. Quick-kill pesticides and baits will only kill foraging ants, preventing worker ants from bringing the bait back to the nest to nourish the queen, workers, and brood.
  • Insecticide Sprays – Commercial pesticide sprays are readily accessible. Simply follow the instructions for the best results. You can also incorporate the ant bait method with insecticide spray for quick results.

Termite Extermination

After a termite inspection, termite-killing treatments can be applied to your home’s exterior, direct chemicals can be used on the inside, termite baiting can be set up, and boric acid can be sprayed on your floors and walls. If you’re determined to tackle a termite infestation on your own, there are a variety of choices available, ranging from standard chemical killers to organic alternatives.

  • Termiticide Barriers – Depending on where you reside, you may be able to buy professional-grade termite-killing products. It is impossible for termites to detect termiticide, so they do not avoid it. Termiticides can also spread like a virus. Whenever a termite makes contact with the termiticide, it will unintentionally spread it to other termites, infecting them and eventually killing the colony.
  • Termite Baits – Termite Baits are a tried and true strategy. Foraging termites are drawn to the poison within these baits, which are placed around the border of your home’s foundation. The slow-acting toxin stops termites from developing normally, killing them when they attempt to molt. Because the toxin takes so long to take effect, sick termites will transport the insecticide back to the colony and spread it to other termites.

Keep Your Home Pest-Free with Midway Pest Management

Whether you’re struggling with a ghost ant infestation or termite infestation, you can always contact a pest control company for assistance. Midway Pest Management is only a phone call away from inspecting your property and designing the best extermination strategy for your termite swarm or ant swarmer problem. For the best pest control service in Kansas and the nearby areas, call us right now.

Learn More: Are Ghost Ants and White-footed Ants the Same Thing?