If you were watching a ghost eat, would you be able to see the food go through its body? The first thing that comes to my mind is the family favorite movie Casper the Friendly Ghost and the scene that shows the uncles, that are ghosts as well, eating all of the breakfast Casper made you. As they do this, you can see it go through their "body". Ghost ants also demonstrate this quality, as you can see in the picture above and below, since their gaster is transparent it changes color with what the ant eats. They really do have quite the ghostly appearance!


Another trait that emphasizes the "ghostly" aspect of these ants can be depicted by the following stories.
Imagine you need to make a juice for a party you are having. Since you are expecting quite a few people you decide to use a large jug. After the party there is not much juice left so you decide you are too tired to clean the jug and it can wait until tomorrow. The next day you find this white, ghost like mass at the bottom of the jug. When you move the jug, the mass breaks up and starts moving erratically. This link shows this scenario http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKKvg5JPkbY. Now imagine reaching to grab the bottle of honey from your cupboard and you see flashes of white. Tapinoma melanocephalum is attracted to sweet foods so they usually appear around foods that we use often.  Since ghost ants are very fast, when they are disturbed all that is seen is its "ghostly" disappearance which can be startling (Choe et al, 2009).

A more concerning fact is that there was a study done in Brazil that found "[I]n the state of Rio de Jeneiro, four species of ants were described as carriers of hospital bacteria resistant to antimicrobials, being T. melanocephalum the most frequent (63.1%)" (Teixeira et al, 2009). This means that ghost ants are aiding in transferring bacteria between hospital patients which is an enormous threat because infections obtained within hospitals are an unsolved and serious problem that increase mortality and time spent in hospitals (Teixeira et al, 2009). Now when you go to a hospital and they tell you you wear a mask to cover your cough you can say that they should worry about ants transferring infections and not you!

To see where all of this information came from, move to the reference page.