Dreaded pest on the march

Biosecurity Queensland is calling on the restoration sector to help stop the spread of an invasive pest in the Wet Tropics. 

Electric ants live in soil and can build nests in most materials in contact with the ground. Photo: © Alex Wilder 

Biosecurity Queensland is calling on the community to help stop the spread of an invasive pest in the Wet Tropics. 

Native to Central and South America, electric ants – also known as fire ants – can dominate landscapes by creating super colonies, displacing native insects and preying on small vertebrates. First found in Cairns in 2006, the ants can inflict painful, burning stings on wildlife and humans, causing itchy welts to form on the skin and in rare cases a severe allergic reaction, or anaphylaxis. 

An electric ant biosecurity zone is in place for Cairns, the Cassowary Coast, Atherton Tablelands and across the Douglas Shire Council region (see interactive map). Under the Biosecurity Act 2014 individuals and organisations must take reasonable steps to ensure they do not spread electric ants.

Electric ant carriers include: 
• potted plants and cuttings 
• garden waste and mulch 
• fruit from plants 
• an object that has come into contact with the ground, (e.g. beehives, pot plants, garden furniture) 
• soil 
• turf 
• composted materials 
• baled hay or straw 
• animal manure 

To book a free inspection, call Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23, or visit the electric ant webpage at daf.qld.gov.au/anthunt.

This is an edited article published in New Leaf, the e-Newsletter fop the Wet Tropics Restoration Alliance.

See our previous story: Electric Ants - a significant threat to the Daintree Rainforest.


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  • Kelvin Davies
    published this page in Latest News 2023-10-03 10:53:55 +1100