Ghost ants are commonly found in leaf litter, firewood, and trees, and they get inside houses by climbing the branches that are near the roof.
How Big is a Ghost Ant? According to our research, a ghost ant is almost 1.5 to 1.8 mm long, but their queens are usually bigger and reach almost 2 to 2.5mm in body length. Their colonies are polygynous, containing multiple queens because they have several nests in a colony, and each nest has 150 to 950 workers. Their body weight is around 0.5 to 1mg, but queens are slightly heavier.
They can be identified by their 12-segmented antennae, translucent abdomen, and a distinct odor of rotten coconuts when crushed under feet.
What is the average size of ghost ants?
Tapinoma melanocephalum is considered the smallest insect among different species of ants, as they have smaller bodies with tiny eyes and smaller heads. Their lifespan is only 4 to 6 weeks.
Ghost ants have monomorphic colonies in which all workers have the same body length, even if they are foraging insects, nursing members, and soldiers in a colony.
Moreover, their body size ranges between 1.5 to 1.8mm on average, with slight variations in the length of their appendages and heads, but the overall body length falls within this range.
Their bodies are light to dark brown, but their gaster appears lighter or opaque. Their smaller bodies allow them to become nuisance pests within homes and reach narrow spaces.
However, the other castes of the colony have slightly bigger bodies due to differences in gender and variations in their genetic makeup, like the ability to produce eggs.
The males cannot produce eggs and are smaller than their female mates possessing bigger bodies because they have to store eggs in their abdomen.
In addition, the drones or males can reach 1.8 to 2mm body lengths longer than sterile females in the colony involved in other nest activities.
Furthermore, the body length of queens is around 2 to 2.5mm, known to be the biggest in the ghost ants’ colony. Larvae are also present in a colony, but they are pretty small.
How big is a ghost ant colony?
Ghost ants are tiny insects among ants known to build smaller colonies comprising a few hundred members commonly.
Their colonies comprise three different castes, including sterile female workers, reproductive drones, and fertile queens having the ability to lay eggs.
Accordingly, their colonies have multiple nests, and each nest usually contains 150 to 950 workers, while the rest of the members are drones and queens.
More than 85 to 90% of the colony population comprises workers involved in locating a food source, loading the food particles on their backs, and bringing them back to the nest.
They collect insects eating honey to get nutrition from their sweet bodies and pass the food down to the colony members to provide energy.
The larvae, queens, and drones depend on this active nest population to get food because they are inactive and spend their lives within nests.
So, their colonies contain a few hundred or only a thousand members in each separate house that remain connected to each other because the workers keep exchanging food sources.
How many queens are present in a ghost ant colony?
Every ant colony contains a varying number of individuals, depending on their species and habitat. External factors, like temperature, also contribute to determining the queen’s number.
Some species prefer to build monogynous colonies containing only one queen, responsible for egg-laying and maintaining a balance of individuals in the colony.
However, the ghost ant colonies are polygynous, as they have more than one queen in their nest that takes control of the egg production and protects larvae.
There is one queen in each individual nest, comprising 150 to 950 workers. She replaces the old, dying, and lost colony members with new eggs and larvae.
These ants have a polygyny nesting strategy which means they build several nests within a colony that are interconnected with each other as the exchange of workers is commonly seen in them.
It allows the colony to develop into a massive size because a large number of insects interconnect to form a bigger mass of these insects in the form of a colony.
Nests, comprising hundred thousand or millions of insects, lead to overlapping generations among different nests and increase the overall population.
Multiple queens within a nest ensure the continuity of the nest population for many years, as these insects are quickly replaced with the new generation.
How much do ghost ants weigh?
Ghost ants are smaller and lighter insects that do not weigh more than a few milligrams as they have lesser body mass. On average, these insects have around 0.5 to 1mg body weight.
This body weight can increase or decrease from this average weight, depending on their diet, as a healthy diet and food availability can help them develop more body mass.
In the same way, their caste also matters as workers typically do not exceed 1mg weight, but the queens are bigger, so these can reach around 1.2 to 1.4mg body weight.
In addition, the force of gravity is lower on their bodies due to lower body mass, which means they are more powerful in carrying a heavy load.
These can lift a load around 50 times their body weight because the force of attraction is lower on their bodies, allowing them to lift heavier particles.
Do bigger ghost ants need more food?
Food and nutrition requirements directly depend on the body size, as bigger organisms need to consume more food to provide nutrients to body cells.
Bigger bodies have an increased number of cells constituting their bodies compared to smaller ones; that’s why they cannot survive on lesser food.
Their body cells need nutrients to produce energy used in different cellular processes and the physical functioning of the organisms.
Accordingly, the queens need more food and healthy nutrients, like vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids, to build their bodies and function properly.
However, the workers are smaller than queens, but their duties are pretty tough than the fertile females as they have to walk all day in search of food.
So, ghost ants need a good amount of food to feed their cells and tissues and get the energy to walk and forage, which is an exhaustive task as they also have to bring food back to their nests.
Are ghost ants considered dangerous?
Ghost ants are not considered dangerous due to their smaller size and lack of stinging abilities due to the absence of a stinging organ on their abdomen.
Additionally, it rarely happens that they bite as these insects do not attack until they feel a threat to survival. These non-aggressive creatures are only involved in defensive bites.
In addition, they are not known to pose any health threats even after biting, so there is nothing to worry about because their bites are not painful.
They do not cause any structural damage to properties but are common nuisance pests indoors. It becomes challenging to get control over their polygynous colonies growing rapidly.
Furthermore, you have to stop them from getting inside buildings because they can cause food contamination and transfer harmful bacteria to the uncovered food cans and trays.