New invasive feral animals in the Wet Tropics

Feral Deer

Feral deer have the potential to spread throughout the Wet Tropics. Populations have already been identified in the Mission Beach, East Palmerston and Upper Daradgee areas where it is believed the deer have escaped from farms. Species include rusa deer (native to Indonesia) and chital deer (native to India and Sri Lanka). The sclerophyll communities of the Wet Tropics are particularly susceptible to deer invasion. Feral deer can degrade native vegetation communities and revegetation areas through browsing, grazing and trampling. They can compete with native animals for resources. Feral deer can lower the water quality of creek and river systems through erosion and faecal contamination. They may also spread weeds and diseases.

Negotiations with deer farmers to control escapes and restrict the sale of deer as pets are an important element of preventing the establishment of another uncontrollable feral animal in the World Heritage Area. 

See the factsheet and brochure for the 2006 feral deer spotting campaign to raise public awareness about feral deer and to prevent them spreading throughout the Wet Tropics.


Yellow crazy ants

Yellow crazy ants (Anoplolepis gracilipes) are small yellowish brown ants (up to 5mm long) with darker abdomens and very long legs and antennae. They look a lot like green tree ants, but smaller and yellower. They walk in a frantic, erratic, "crazy" way, and when disturbed they spray formic acid. Ground-nesting birds and animals, like cassowaries, are particularly at risk, but they forage high in the canopy as well. They were first detected in the Cairns region in 2001, and have recently have been found inside the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area for the first time near the suburbs of Edmonton and Bentley Park, south of Cairns. Yellow crazy ants are considered one of the world´s 100 most invasive species by IUCN and are considered a major threat to biodiversity.

Yellow crazy ants are capable of forming multi-queened super-colonies which cause significant disruption to natural environments and declines in native birds, animals and plants. They spread outward from colonized areas at a rate of up to 1km per year, but, like electric ants and other 'tramp ant' species, also spread to new areas by hitching a ride with humans. Infestations of yellow crazy ants have caused significant environmental damage on Christmas Island, Hawaii, Seychelles, and the island of Zanzibar. The Wet Tropics Management Authority (Wet Tropics) is working closely with Biosecurity Queensland and Conservation Volunteers Australia to reduce this threat to the World Heritage area.

You can find out more about yellow crazy ants on the Queensland Government site or by watching our YouTube video: Yellow crazy ants - a serious threat to the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

The Wet Tropics Management Authority has recently received $2M funding to stamp out yellow crazy ants in the Cairns Area.

You can learn more about yellow crazy ants on the:


Electric Ants

Electric ants (Wasmannia auropunctata) are tiny (1.5mm long), slow moving, and golden brown. Like yellow crazy ants, they are considered one of the world´s 100 most invasive species by IUCN. Native to Central and South America, they have hitched a ride with humans across the Pacific, causing declines in biodiversity wherever they've landed, including the Galapagos, Hawaii, New Caledonia and the Solomon Island.

Electric ants inject a powerful venom when they sting. The sting results in painful, itchy and persistent pimples, and sometimes severe allergic reactions. In addition to affecting humans, electric ants can cause declines in the numbers of invertebrates and small vertebrates and compete with other ant species. They are aggressive and often attack the eyes of animals, including domestic pets, causing blindness. Ground-nesting birds and animals, like cassowaries, are particularly at risk.

Electric ants were first discovered in the Wet Tropics region in Smithfield in 2006 and have subsequently spread to many Cairns suburbs and down to Bingil Bay, near Mission Beach. Wet Tropics is supporting Biosecurity Queensland and Conservation Volunteers Australia in working with the community to eradicate this pest.

You can find out more about electric ants on the

Suspected electric ants and yellow crazy ants should be reported immediately to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

Asian honey bee

Asian honey bees were first detected in 2007 in Cairns and are now found from Cairns' northern beaches south to Innisfail and on the Atherton Tableland. They compete with managed European honey bees for floral resources and rob honey from managed hives, which may cause hives to die from starvation.  Asian honey bees are a natural host for varroa mites, a major threat to Australia's honey bee industry. Asian honey bees also carry other unwanted bee pests and diseases.

You can find out more about Asian honey bees and report sightings on the Queensland Government website.

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