Acid-spraying ants close in on fragile rainforest

 

YELLOW crazy ants have been detected for the first time in a new Cairns suburb, posing a threat to World Heritage listed rainforest.

The Wet Tropics Management Authority has confirmed that the invasive pests, which are known to spray acid, were found at Henleys Hill Park in Earlville more than a week ago.

The authority is now trying to establish how large the infestation is, before determining the best method to eradicate the species from the area.

Yellow crazy ants - named for their colour and erratic movements - have previously been found Edmonton, Mt Peter, Bentley Park, Bayview Heights, Gordonvale and Kuranda.

The ants form supercolonies, and are capable of wiping out large sections of rainforest, including flora and fauna.

 

Yellow Crazy Ant eradication taskforce workers at Henleys Hill, Earlville, where a new infestation of the invasive pests has been detected. Photo: WTMA
Yellow Crazy Ant eradication taskforce workers at Henleys Hill, Earlville, where a new infestation of the invasive pests has been detected. Photo: WTMA

 

They have also been known to invade residents' homes, causing burns on people and their pets.

WTMA's yellow crazy ant project manager, Lucy Karger, said survey teams would need access to properties near Henleys Hill Park, and would begin treatment once the size of the infestation was confirmed.

She said it was still safe for people and dogs to use the dog park at Henleys Hill, and those living within the infested area were not under any threat.

"People should be aware that yellow crazy ants in large numbers can spray acid when disturbed and pets or small children may be vulnerable," she said.

 

 

Yellow crazy ants have been detected in Earlville for the first time.
Yellow crazy ants have been detected in Earlville for the first time.

 

"We need the local residents around Henleys Hill to contact the eradication program if they see any yellow crazy ants or wish to move high risk materials.

"Yellow crazy ants can be easily moved in materials such as vegetation, pot plans and soil, furniture and machinery."

She said people wishing to move high risk materials out of the infestation area should contact the authority to conduct a free inspection and treatment, if necessary.

WTMA's executive director, Scott Buchanan, said yellow crazy ants were one of the world's worst invasive species.

"Once establish, they can swarm aggressively and destroy entire ecosystems, killing most other invertebrates and small animals," he said.

"Yellow crazy ants pose a significant threat to the rich biodiversity of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area."


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