One of the world’s most invasive species is in Far North Queensland and spreading fast.
Yellow Crazy Ants have invaded over 20 countries so quickly that experts are not sure whether they originated in Vanuatu or Africa, according to Kurt Pudniks, a scientist based in Cairns. There are now over 70 infestations in Far North Queensland and they are not all close together.
The ants spray formic acid into the eyes of their intended victim. They kill small reptiles and animals and seriously disrupt the ecology. The secondary pests that benefit, destroy natural heritage rainforest and crops such as sugar cane.
In December last year, cane farmers starting abusing authorities who blamed poor cane crops on grubs. “If they can prove it is grubs, I’ll eat my hat, and I’ll soak it in sump oil first,” bushman Frank Teodo told ABC News at the time.
Since then the Invasive Species Council of Australia has reported to the government.
“A preliminary scan of the report indicates there is a lot we don’t know,” Queensland Senator Larissa Waters told Mr Pudniks on the weekend.
The government has been unsuccessfully battling the Ants since May 2014 when helicopters were used to drop baits over a wider area. One year later and drones have been employed to better target the infestations.
Recent history in other infested nations indicates that it is unlikely these efforts will have much impact.
“We don’t even understand the vectors. We know that the ants pop up 70km or so from the nearest known site, we know that they can hitch a ride on large mammals and we know that they form rafts to cross large rivers,” Mr Pudniks told Westender.
The ant is adapted to the Wet Tropics but has reportedly been seen in Brisbane. Of course, as the climate changes, warming the average temperature and pushing the Wet Tropics south, many tropical pests will appear much further south.