Cane growers enlisted in fight against yellow crazy ants

A series of field sessions in April will assist local sugarcane growers to protect their crops against the spread of yellow crazy ants.

Yellow crazy ants are listed as one of the world’s 100 worst invasive species and have infested over 1,400 hectares in the Wet Tropics region.

Approximately forty percent (592 hectares) of the infestation affects sugarcane farms south of Cairns around Edmonton, Bentley Park, Sawmill Pocket (Mount Peter) and Gordonvale.

Crops are susceptible to the ants’ husbandry of sugarcane pests such as scale insects, whitefly and aphids.

Excess honeydew from large numbers of these insects can cause sooty mould and mildews, damaging crops.

The Wet Tropics Management Authority’s Yellow Crazy Ant Eradication Program held field sessions on 19 and 20 April to assist farmers to identify and report the pest, and share techniques to prevent its spread.

Program project manager Lucy Karger said recent successful local eradications in the region were encouraging, but emphasised the need for ongoing vigilance.

“We have recently declared two local eradications and another site is on track to be eradicated later this year, so we know the treatment program is working,” she said.

“However, with increased vigilance and greater public awareness of yellow crazy ants we are finding other areas of infestation, the majority of which are found in sugarcane areas on the southern edge of the Wet Tropics infestation.

“We are working closely with local sugarcane farmers to protect their crops and prevent further spread of yellow crazy ants, and we hope the field sessions can assist in this goal,” she said.

Matt Hession, cane supply field officer at MSF Sugar’s Mulgrave Mill, attended the field sessions.

“Having seen first-hand the invasiveness of these ants on a number of farms now, it’s an image that is difficult to forget,” he said.

“Colonised areas are just barren of any other soil microfauna, which are so important for a healthy soil system.

“What is encouraging though, is that after areas have been treated those beetles, mites and millipedes move back in surprisingly fast, he said."

For more information on yellow crazy ants, phone 4241 0525 or email yca@wtma.qld.gov.au

Cane growers enlisted in fight against yellow crazy ants

Published: 09th Apr 2018

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