Wet Tropics Management Authority is urging far north Queenslanders to join the fight against yellow crazy ants ahead of an important baiting period.
The Yellow Crazy Ant Eradication team starts ground baiting in southern Cairns this week and will conduct aerial baiting in infested areas later this month.
But the Authority's Executive Director Scott Buchanan says community members play a vital role in stopping the spread of the invasive species throughout the region.
"People are our most important ally in the battle to eradicate yellow crazy ants," Mr Buchanan says. "It’s going to be extremely difficult but our endeavours have the potential to be a game changer when it comes to dealing with invasive pests globally."
Mr Buchanan says a recent small outbreak in Bayview Heights highlights the need to repeat key messages within the community.
"We believe in this most recent case, the crazy ants have travelled in pot plants from an infested site to a new suburb," he says. "Inadvertent outbreaks like this divert resources from key areas and risk spreading the ants much further."
People living in or near yellow crazy ant infestations can do three things to stop the exotic pests' spread:
· Avoid selling or giving away any goods that may contain yellow crazy ants. If moving materials that may harbour yellow crazy ants such as pot plants, timber or outdoor furniture, have them inspected by the eradication team.
· Dispose of all green waste and garden materials at either the Gordonvale or Portsmith transfer stations.
· Notify the Yellow Crazy Ants Eradication team if you are moving from an infestation site and would like a free inspection.
Helicopter baiting to treat yellow crazy ant infestations in non-residential areas around Bentley Park, Mount Peter and near Kuranda will occur on Thursday 27 and Friday 28 April subject to weather conditions. The helicopter will spread granules of ant bait over cane farms and World Heritage rainforests yellow crazy ants have already invaded.
Mr Buchanan says the Authority is confident they will declare two infested sites in Edmonton eradicated by the end of 2017.
"There are encouraging signs that our baiting programs are making a difference," he says. "Our field teams do outstanding work. It’s now up to all of us to support them."
Yellow crazy ants are restricted biosecurity matter under the Biosecurity Act 2014. Under the Act, everyone has a ‘General Biosecurity Obligation’ to not move any materials that may relocate the ants.
To report a suspected yellow crazy ant sighting contact Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.
About Yellow Crazy Ants
Yellow crazy ants are among the most invasive species found in the Wet Tropics. The exotic pest has invaded around 800 hectares of land in the region, including over 200 hectares of rainforest in and adjacent to the World Heritage Area. Rather than bite or sting, the ants spray formic acid to kill their prey, making them a danger to threatened endemic species in the Wet Tropics. The 5mm ants can kill much larger prey and often work in large numbers referred to as 'super-colonies'.