Yellow crazy ant treatment starts in Kuranda

23 May 2014

Yellow crazy ant infestations in the Russett Park area and the implementation of a treatment program were discussed at a community meeting recently.

About 25 concerned Russett Park residents with properties in or near yellow crazy ant (YCA) infestations met with Wet Tropics Management Authority staff on 22 May to learn about the coordinated pest treatment program planned for their area.

Yellow crazy ants are a declared Class 1 pest under the Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route Management) Act 2002. The Wet Tropics Management Authority is coordinating a five year YCA eradication program for the Wet Tropics region, including Russett Park, with funding from the Australian Government.

The yellow crazy ants have been found in 27 hectares of rainforest across 16 Russett Park properties. Infestations have reached the banks of the Barron River and are close to the boundary of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

The residents who attended the YCA community meeting were very positive and encouraged by the planned triple treatment program that requires three treatments a year for three years. Many talked about how fast the YCA had spread on their properties and were concerned that they may have been washed further downstream by Cyclone Ita.

Yellow crazy ant Program Manager Lucy Karger assured residents that Conservation Volunteers have conducted post cyclone YCA checks downstream and across the river and had found no evidence of more outbreaks. Ms Karger reinforced that the Kuranda community needs to be vigilant and report any suspected new outbreaks to Biosecurity QLD on their pest hotline 13 25 23. Conservation Volunteers will continue monitoring YCA for the life of the project.

About the treatment program
The infestations will be treated by qualified pest technicians from Safeway Pest Control in the next week (subject to weather). They will apply granular baits using a hand spreader in yards. There is no need for the bait to be applied in houses and waterways will be avoided. It should take a week to treat all properties.

Residents are asked not to use any other pesticides on their properties to maximise the effectiveness of the treatment program, though surface spray can be used in houses and around cars.

“We are urging residents not to treat their own yards in this critical phase of the treatment program. Not only will it be money wasted on inferior pest control products, it will interfere with our coordinated treatment program,” Ms Karger said.

Following advice from scientists at JCU involved in the yellow crazy ant eradication program, the triple treatment program has been timed to cause maximum disruption to the queen ants’ reproduction cycle.

About the pesticides
The triple treatment program uses both ‘knock-down’ toxin pesticides and insect growth regulators. The treatments are timed for when the queens are active and will be most affected by the baits. With the triple treatment program, Russett Park properties will be treated around the months of May, August and October for the next three years.

The first YCA treatment will use a pesticide called ‘Engage P’ which has an active ingredient of Smethoprene. S-methoprene is an insect growth regulator (IGR) which affects the YCA’s life cycle and prevents the queens from reaching maturity or reproducing viable eggs. Eventually the YCA colony collapses as the worker ants are not replaced. For this reason IGR’s are considered biochemical
pesticides rather than ‘knock-down‘ toxin pesticides.

Residents will see a gradual decline in YCAs on their properties rather than immediate effects.

Impacts on the Kuranda Tree Frog
The Wet Tropics Management Authority is using Engage P in the first treatment because it will to minimise impacts on the threatened Kuranda Tree Frog (Litoria myola). The treatment program is also being timed to consider the frog’s breeding cycle.

What can Russett Park residents can do?

Russett Park residents please:

  • Return consent forms authorising entry to their properties by post to the Wet Tropics Management Authority PO Box 2050 Cairns 4870, via email or by fax 4241 0550
  • do not remove organic matter or disturb infested areas
  • read the Frequently Asked Questions for Russett Park at

What can the Kuranda community do?
The Kuranda community is being called upon to be the ‘eyes on the ground’ and report ANY suspect ants immediately to Biosecurity QLD on their pest hotline 13 25 23.

Yellow crazy ants can spread when they hitch a ride with people in timber, soil, vegetation, garden waste, pot plants, picnic and camping gear, vehicles or via waterways.

  • only dispose of vegetation, plants and soil at approved council sites – don’t dump vegetation waste!
  • spray pot plants with insecticide when moving home
  • check your yard regularly for signs of yellow crazy ants

How to identify yellow crazy ants

  • 5mm body length (or half the size of a green ant)
  • long legs and antennae
  • brownish-yellow or orange-yellow, with a brown abdomen, sometimes striped
  • erratic, frantic, “crazy” movement (unlike other ants that walk in a line)
  • can forage day and night but less active in intense heat and heavy rain.

Where to find yellow crazy ants
Yellow crazy ants nest on the ground in soil and prefer areas with access to water or some moisture, such as along creek banks, in and below woody debris and rocks, at the base of trees, underneath leaf litter on the forest floor, and in animal burrows and nests (e.g. bush turkey nests). They also lay their eggs in boxes, plant pots, fence lines, furniture and even wall cavities.

Learn more

Contact Wet Tropics Management Authority on 4241 0500 or for more information.

For interviews and comments contact:
Mr Andrew Maclean, Executive Director, Wet Tropics Management Authority
P: 4241 0501 M: 0417 052 495. E:

Yellow crazy ant treatment starts in Kuranda

Published: 23rd May 2014

Share Connect Protect