Scott Buchanan and the Cairns Mayor, Bob Manning, launched the BonANTza competition in the first week of October. The aim of this eco-ant-hunt competition, using QuestaGame mobile gaming technology, was to encourage people to become more ‘ant aware’, help map the species diversity of ants in the Wet Tropics and highlight any unknown yellow crazy ant infestations around the Cairns region, or the presence of other invasive ants species.
Players take photos of ants, the good and the bad, and upload them to the QuestaGame app where they are identified and scored by leading ant experts. All confirmed and identified species are added to Atlas of Living Australia, the largest rapidly growing biodiversity database in Australia. BonANTza is running all year and there is discussions around making the ant hunt location wider.
So, why ants? Ants play a vital role in our environment and are important to soil health. Ants turn and aerate the soil, allowing water and oxygen to reach plant roots. Ants eat a wide variety of organic material and provide a food source for mammals, reptiles, birds and other insects. Of course, this region has a couple of known invasive ant species in the yellow crazy ant and electric ant. The more information we have about our natural ant biodiversity and of any invasive species the better.
Anyone who suspects they have seen yellow crazy ants is encouraged to contact the Wet Tropics Management Authority at YCA@wtma.qld.gov.au or call 4241 0525.