[ASC-media] Crazy ants invade northern Australia

racheltaylor at optusnet.com.au racheltaylor at optusnet.com.au
Fri Feb 28 14:00:15 EST 2003

did anyone else get an image of a teenie-weenie mardi-gras with mention of 
multi-queened ant colonies?

Is this the new yellow peril?

> Barbara.McKaige at csiro.au <Barbara.McKaige at csiro.au> wrote:
> Joint Dhimurru Land Management Aboriginal Corporation, Northern Land
> Council
> and CSIRO media release
> FEBRUARY 28, 2003
> Northern Australia has been invaded by one of the world's worst
> species of
> ant, which could affect human health and damage the environment,
> agriculture, and the economy.
>  "This little Yellow Crazy ant will destroy our culture, our land,
> our
> life," says Balupalu Yunupingu, Dhimurru senior ranger, north-east
> Arnhem
> Land.
> The Yellow Crazy ant is recognised by the Global Invasive Species
> Programme
> as one of the world's worst invaders, and represents a major
> environmental
> and economic threat to northern Australia.
> CSIRO research fellow, Dr Ben Hoffmann, says Yellow Crazy ants form
> multi-queened 'super-colonies' in which ants occur at extremely high
> densities over large areas.
> "The density of foraging worker ants in super-colonies is amazing,
> reaching
> around 1000 per square metre or 79 million per hectare of bush," he
> says.
> Dr Hoffmann says the ants are a threat to human health as their acid
> spray
> can send people blind. 
> "When the ants are swarming people get acid on their hands and can
> accidentally rub it into their eyes. This is particularly a concern
> for
> infants", he said.
> Dr Hoffmann says the ants are a major environmental threat as they
> totally
> displace native animals from infested areas, and seriously disrupt
> ecological processes. 
> "They are also a serious pest of agriculture as they cause outbreaks
> of
> sap-sucking insects which harm plants," he says. 
> The Yellow Crazy ant (Anoplolepis gracilipes) is believed to have
> come from
> India and was accidentally introduced by people to Australia probably
> about
> 60 to 70 years ago. 
> Dhimurru Land Management Aboriginal Corporation Senior Cultural
> Adviser,
> Nanikiya Munungurritj, says the ant has been found around human
> settlements,
> along creeks and in shaded areas on the Gove peninsula in eastern
> Arnhem
> Land.
> "Yellow Crazy ants need help from people to move across country. If
> the ants
> had found their way into densely populated areas instead of this
> remote area
> they would have already spread right across the country", he says. 
> "People should be aware of Crazy ants. We need to track their
> locations and
> treat them before they get out of hand".
> Yellow Crazy ants are also a serious pest in homes. The ants nest in
> all
> kinds of materials, from potting mix to packaging, making it very
> easy for
> them to be accidentally transported by people.
> Northern Land Council project officer Mark Ashley says the threat of
> Yellow
> Crazy ants should not be underestimated. 
> "These ants have the capacity to spread from Broome in Western
> Australia
> across to Queensland", he says.
> "We have an opportunity now to do something about them while their
> distribution is limited. It will cost money but if we act quickly it
> will be
> far more cost efficient than if we wait 10 years."
> On Christmas Island, Yellow Crazy ants have completely eliminated the
> Island's famous red land crabs in areas where super-colonies exist.
> An
> estimated 15-20 million red crabs have been killed since crazy ant
> super-colonies were first reported in 1989, a decline of 30 per cent
> of the
> crab population.  This had led to major changes in the island's
> rainforest
> ecosystem, and is threatening a range of rare and endangered species
> on the
> island.  
> Mr Munungurritj says the Dhimurru Land Management Aboriginal
> Corporation,
> the Northern Land Council and CSIRO have developed a proposal for a
> control
> program. 
> "We want to keep the country as it is. The way it was always long
> before
> these Crazy ants came. So we would like to eradicate them as soon as
> possible - on the spot", he says.
> Mr Munungurritj, Mr Ashley and Dr Hoffmann will be presenting a joint
> seminar on Yellow Crazy ants in northern Australia at CSIRO today
> (Friday)
> in Darwin. 
> Further information:
> Nanikiya Munungurritj - Dhimurru ph. 042 9095 396
> Dr Ben Hoffmann - CSIRO ph. 08 8944 8432 mobile  0418 820 718
> Media assistance:
> Barbara McKaige - CSIRO Darwin  ph. 08 8944 8411
> David Moodie - Northern Land Council ph. 08 89205114	mobile 0417 
> 425
> Barbara McKaige
> Communication Coordinator
> CSIRO Tropical Ecosystems Research Centre
> Darwin NT
> ph:  08 8944 8411
> fax: 08 8944 8444
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