Authorities are working to contain a small outbreak of yellow crazy ants discovered in a south Cairns suburb.
A suspected infestation of the invasive species was discovered late last month by a Department of Environmental Heritage and Protection employee.
The invasive pests’ presence in the area was confirmed by the Wet Tropics Management Authority and its Yellow Crazy Ants Eradication Program (YCAEP) team has since assessed the site.
The first round of eradication treatment on the site, located in Mt Peter, will start next week.
The site is mostly bushland and is not expected to affect Edmonton residents.
An ongoing management plan is being established in consultation with key stakeholders.
Wet Tropics Management Authority Executive Director Scott Buchanan says while it is unclear how the ants ended up in the bushland, illegal dumping may be occurring in the area.
“Aside from being against the law, illegal dumping can have an extremely harmful effect on our environment,” Mr Buchanan says.
“Community members have reason to believe that illegal dumping may have happened in the area. If so, it is simply not on. We must work together to protect our rich biodiversity within the region.”
“We don’t anticipate residents will be affected but urge members of the community to contact us if they do see something.”
“A new office has been opened at 101-106 Tingira Street, Portsmith and people are welcome to bring samples in or call us.”
The YCAEP team will treat the site three times over the next year in a bid to rid the invasive species from the site.
Infestation sites are monitored for two years once yellow crazy ants have been eliminated before it is declared to be eradicated of the pest.
In 2016, the Authority received $7.5 million from the Federal Government and $3 million from the Queensland Government to help fund the Yellow Crazy Ants Eradication Program over the next three years. As a result the program is increasing operations to ensure effective treatment and monitoring of the ants.
The Authority is confident that it will be able to declare eradication of YCA from two existing sites on Mill Road and Woodlock Drive in Edmonton by November 2017.The Authority’s aim is to rid yellow crazy ants from the World Heritage Area and adjacent areas.
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 aggressive invasive species found in the Wet Tropics. The exotic pest was first detected in Cairns in 2001 and has since 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’.