Invasive ants are bad news for Australia. Increasing global trade has led to the unintended transport of ants across the world. Some of these foreign ants, also called ‘tramp ants’, can create co-operative super colonies with destructive impacts unlike anything seen in Australia before.
Even in low numbers these ants hurt people, wildlife, agriculture and infrastructure, but once they build to super colony levels they can dominate large landscapes, killing, consuming or driving out everything in their path.
Six invasive ant species have already reached Australia, giving us a glimpse of the future if we don’t act now.
A glimpse of the future
On Christmas Island yellow crazy ants have already created an ecosystem collapse by wiping out more than 15 million native crabs and damaging forests by encouraging sugar secreting scale insects and sooty moulds. Near Cairns the acid spraying yellow crazy ants have swarmed people and pets and attacked their eyes with acid.
So far $300 million has been spent eradicating red imported fire ants in Australia. These ants have very painful bites and can kill wildlife and damage crops, roads and electrical equipment. Once in large numbers they can even kill people, as has been seen overseas with over 80 deaths so far.
Unless action is taken soon to eradicate a new invasion of Argentine ants on Norfolk Island, scientists predict a decimation of most of the island’s insects, including pollinators, damage to vegetation and flow on effects to the rest of the food web.
What needs to happen?
Firstly, we need to stop these ants arriving – good biosecurity is not cheap, but it is much cheaper than the consequences. Secondly Australia needs to properly resource programs to eradicate the invasive ants that have already arrived. The alternative is a future of widespread environmental damage and endless toxic baiting around school grounds, parks and gardens and homes that would otherwise become unusable.
We still have the opportunity to eradicate most of these invasive ants and that investment will be far cheaper than the cost and pain of living with these ants in the future.
We need your help
We need people like you to let our politicians know that you want action on invasive ants. Right now our priority is to fund the eradication of yellow crazy ants from the Wet Tropics rainforests. We have created a simple on line form to make this easy for you, and it only takes a couple of minutes.
If you are able to, please also consider making a donation to help us continue our work of putting pressure our governments to act on invasive ants.
Most ant invasions have been found by ordinary people who saw something unusual and reported it. If you think you may have seen invasive ants report them. In Queensland call Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23. Outside of Queensland call the National Exotic Pest Hotline on 1800 884 881.
In the US where fire ants have spread across 15 states, 85 people have been killed after being swarmed and stung. We have them in Australia, but with enough funding we can still eradicate them before it’s too late.
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The cost of eradicating yellow crazy ants is tiny compared to the value of our Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Please send a message to our politicians calling on them to fund the eradication program.
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Yellow crazy ants horror near Cairns
First hand accounts of the impact of these acid-spitting ants on people, pets and wildlife are horrific. Now the people with first hand experience are fighting to have the eradication program continued.
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How to report invasive ants
If you think you have found an invasive ant in Australia please contact your local biosecurity agency, we have listed appropriate agencies on our website.
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