Councils targeting another ant menace

Published: 11th January 2022

After a decade of trying to stop the spread of the exotic fire ant in Queensland, the State Government is now being urged to ramp up efforts to eradicate another invasive ant pest. 

Known as the yellow crazy ant for its colour and frantic behaviour when disturbed, experts say the insect has the potential to become a significant pest in Queensland. 

First detected in 2001 in Cairns, the yellow crazy ant (Anoplolepis gracilipes) has been found in coastal areas from North Queensland to the SEQ, including Townsville, Hervey Bay, Caboolture and Brisbane. 

However, the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) was warned at its annual conference in October 2021 that new infestations of the ant had been located in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Moreton Bay.  

Conference delegates voted in favour of a Brisbane City Council motion calling on the Government to supply councils with the required chemicals and permits to eradicate the ant in affected areas.  

LGAQ CEO Alison Smith said councils were ready to work with the Government to eradicate the yellow crazy ant. 

With the State Government funding baits for the yellow crazy ant, councils would play their part by undertaking surveillance, applying the baits and helping to educate the community. 

Ms Smith said the LGAQ was also continuing to lobby the State Government to source and supply councils with chemicals to boost eradication efforts against another significant ant pest, the fire ant. 

She said the LGAQ had met with Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Mark Furner late last year seeking funding for the supply of baits to councils to control fire ants in public spaces such as parks and sporting fields. 

“This is an opportunity for councils and the Government to establish a true partnership in the management of invasive pests,” she said. 

“It makes sense for willing councils to be provided with the necessary baits to eradicate these pests as they already have staff on the ground undertaking surveillance and other pest management activities.” 

Brisbane Civic Cabinet Chair for Environment, Parks and Sustainability Tracy Davis said Council knew of four locations where yellow crazy ants had been detected.  

“We need to act now to prevent further outbreaks," she said. 

"By using the right tools, permits and chemicals, Council is working to protect Brisbane's biodiversity from this invasive threat. 

"We need residents to help us in this fight, by reporting any local sightings to Council." 

The yellow crazy ant, believed to be native to South East Asia, forms super colonies and has the potential to cause extensive environmental harm. This has been shown on Christmas Island where the ant is decimating the island’s iconic red land crabs. 

A risk assessment prepared by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries reveals the yellow crazy ant can be dispersed in sea cargo, especially timber, and has spread because of global trade.  

Modelling suggests the species could spread across substantial areas. Habitats most at risk are offshore islands with dense forest, monsoon forest/rainforest and plantations along the tropical east coast, the assessment says.