A large cluster of yellow crazy ants found near the Bruce Highway less than 20km south of Townsville has alarmed members of a local taskforce battling these invasive ants.
The new find is also very close to Bowling Green Bay National Park, a Ramsar-listed site home to migratory birds and four species found nowhere in the world, including the Mount Elliot nursery frog, Mount Elliot crayfish and the bare-rumped sheathtail bat.
The cluster was uncovered after yellow crazy ants were discovered during routine monitoring by members of the Townsville Yellow Crazy Ants Community Taskforce.
The Invasive Species Council will now be approaching the Townsville City Council, the Queensland and federal governments for emergency funds to tackle the newly found yellow crazy ants before they spread and potentially invade Bowling Green Bay National Park.
Yellow crazy ants have been the focus of an intensive, community-led eradication program centred on the Townsville satellite suburb of Nome that has been highly successful, but the new find could set the program back years if emergency funding is not urgently released.
Efforts to eradicate the ants from Nome had been in their final stage, with post-treatment surveillance seeking to confirm that all the ants had been successfully eliminated.
The size of the new ant infestation is still being determined using ground sightings, sticky traps and a special yellow crazy ant detector dog.
Yellow crazy ants are one of the 100 worst invasive species in the world and made it into northern Australia through our ports.
Capable of forming super colonies, they threaten the rainforests and woodlands of North and Far North Queensland and cause severe social, environmental and financial impacts.
If not eradicated they will become a severe threat to people, especially children and the elderly, as well as pets.
Yellow crazy ant super colonies can damage household electrical appliances and wiring.
Although the ants are tiny they can swarm in great numbers, killing other insects and much larger animals like lizards, frogs, small mammals, turtle hatchlings and bird chicks.
When their numbers hit super colony levels they can devastate native wildlife and plants, upsetting entire ecosystems.
The community-led eradication project in Nome was funded by the Queensland Government’s Community Sustainability Action grant program.