Fears of crazy pest invasion spreading from popular harbour
BIOSECURITY officers are in a frenzy to control the spread of yellow crazy ants after the highly invasive pest was detected in one of the region's harbours.
The tiny pests could pose a huge threat to the region's agricultural sector and natural environment according to warnings from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.
Their greatest concern is that the African pest could form a densely populated super colonies with more than one queen, which a DAF fact sheet said "can damage crops, horticulture and honeybee hives, and can adversely impact on our outdoor lifestyle".
While the pests do not have a stinger, they can still ruin your day, with their acidic spray known to burn or otherwise irritate the skin and eyes of animals and humans, DAF said.
The yellow crazy ants were first discovered in Cairns in 2001. Other infestations have been detected across the Queensland coast, including in south east Queensland, Hervey Bay, and Townsville.
Volunteer Marine Rescue Whitsunday have released a statement on Facebook saying multiple ant colonies have been detected at Shute Harbour.
"The yellow crazy ant is listed as one of the world's 100 most invasive species and could cause havoc here if it spreads, especially out to the islands," VMR said.
They have appealed to residents and tourists to reduce the risk of the ants spreading. Everyone is requested to inspect their property and belongings to ensure no ants or eggs are hiding anywhere.
DAF described the ants as having a yellow to brownish colour, with a long slender body 5mm in length. They have 5mm long legs and antennae, and appear very long in comparison with the body.
The Yellow Crazy Ants are named after their erratic walking style and frantic movements, especially when disturbed.
VMR said if anyone came across a suspected pest, they should not attempt to move the ants.
Rather, VMR advised people to record the location of the sighting, take identifiable photos of the ants, minimise the disturbance to the nest then phone Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service on 07 49 625 205 or Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.
Neither the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries nor The Department of Environment and Sciences say they are not responsible for containing the infestation.
But Whitsunday Regional Council says it is is working with the Queensland Government and landholders to manage the invasive pest sighted at Shute Harbour.
Natural Resource Management manager Scott Hardy said initial surveys had been conducted at Shute Harbour and a baiting program was being implemented.
"We can advise that the yellow crazy ant has been sighted around the Shute Harbour marine facility, and at this stage they are confined to the marine area," he said.
"The surveys indicate there are no invasive ants at the Shutehaven residential area, and council will continue monitoring the situation and will keep residents updated over the coming weeks."
A media release says the yellow crazy ant is a declared pest and is named for its erratic walking style and frantic movements when disturbed.
It says native to Africa, the ant is an introduced species which can negatively impact on natural environments and is often detected in port areas along the coast.
Council is working with Biosecurity Queensland, Queensland Parks & Wildlife Services, Department of Environment and Science, Hamilton Island Enterprises and other landholders to coordinate an action plan for the infestation.