Check out what we've been up to in February 2023
Humidity brings activity
You know you are living in the tropics when you walk outside, and you are hit with a wall of steam and your clothes cling to your body from the sweat of just standing outside.
As we retreat to the comfort of indoor air-conditioning, outside critters are humming. The pace of growth is the quickest this time of year, it is the sound of deafening cicadas that tell you biodiversity is reproducing fast.
The same goes for all invasive species on a race to reproduce, outcompete and spread.
Yellow crazy ants and electric ants are on the move this time of year with an abundance of resources of warmth, food, and humid conditions.
Humans are also on the move fighting back the encroaching vegetation with pruning, mowing, cutting, mulching, and disposing green waste.
If you are a backyard weekend warrior. This is a reminder for you to check the vegetation, mulch, rocks or soil leaving your property for yellow crazy ants or electric ants and report any suspicious looking ant to 1800 CRAZY ANT for a free check.
Transfer stations run by Mareeba Shire Council and Cairns Regional Council regularly survey for invasive ants therefore making them the safest places to dispose of your green waste. Disposing of green waste outside council’s transfer stations is illegal and increases the risk of spreading invasive ants. Another great way to dispose of green waste is to responsibly burn it. By contacting your local rural fire brigade, you can find out if there are fire bans in your area and get a permit to burn if the fire is any larger than 1x1m.
Lastly, if you are exchanging, selling or giving away plants from your property. Be sure to check your plants thoroughly for invasive ants before they leave your backyard. Visit the video link to learn how to thoroughly check. communitytaskforce.org.au/protect-your-patch-grow-something-great/.
Photo credit by Ciara Bridgland of yellow crazy ants on a rock
Ant rocognition 101
Yellow crazy ants are often mistaken for some of our native ant species. Meat ants, green ants, funnel ants, strobe ants and carpenter ants have all been reported as potential yellow crazy ants. (See Fig. 1)
Invasive yellow crazy ants, Anoplolepis gracilipes can be recognised by their:
- Slender body, 3-4mm long
- Long skinny legs
- Exceptionally long antennae are as long or longer than the length of the body
- Golden-brown body and dark brown abdomen that is sometimes striped
- Distinctive behaviour when disturbed, the ants run around quickly and erratically
- Absence of a bite or sting
- Absence of soldier ants in their colony (larger workers)
Native carpenter ants, Camponotus sp. in comparison to yellow crazy ants: (See Fig 1. bottom)
- Are much larger at 10-12 mm long
- Have shorter legs
- Have a larger stocky body
- Have soldier/major ants present (larger ants)
- Do not move erratically
Electric ants (Wasmannia auropunctata) are another invasive ant found here in the Wet Tropics that are often hard to see because they are tiny at 1-2 mm, see Fig 3.
People often report feeling the painful sting long before they see the ant. The sting can cause rashes and pimples, and in some cases, itching for 3-4 days. The sting has been described as a burning sensation at the bite site. Hence its name electric ant. Sting reactions do vary from person to person and intensity of the sting will also vary depending on how many bites one receives.
Invasive ant species displace native ants, affect plant life and disrupt the natural cycles of diverse ecosystems.
Below is a link to a basic guide to help you further your ant recognition skills.
Be sure to join us at our upcoming ‘Invasive ANT-ics Identification Workshop’ on Saturday 4 March 10am-1pm, Kuranda Recreation Centre, to see live invasive ants and learn how to better recognise these little critters so you too can help stop the spread of invasive ants.
Fig 1. Distinguishing a yellow crazy ant from other species
Fig 3. Electric ants are 1-2mm
Invasive yellow crazy ant
Fig.2 Report yellow crazy ants
Native carpenter ant
Free invasive ant identification workshop
Looking for some weekend ant-spiration?
The Yellow Crazy Ant Community Taskforce is hosting an invasive ant identification workshop to teach people how to spot yellow crazy ants and electric ants.
These invasive ants outcompete native ants and take over an ecosystem by spreading and decimating local critters and small wildlife. Infestations occur in natural areas and can also spread into residential areas and farms, impacting our lifestyle and industry.
As a community, we need to be aware of these pests so that we can report any possible sightings. We can all do our bit to help protect our precious Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.
This free workshop will have you looking under a microscope to identify the unique features that set these invasive species apart from the native ones.
The event is on Saturday 4 March 2023, 10am to 1pm at the Kuranda Recreation Centre, Fallon Road, Kuranda.
Speakers from Biosecurity Queensland and Wet Tropics Management Authority will be there to deliver an update on how their eradication programs are progressing and answer any questions about how they survey, treat and eliminate these invasive species from backyards, farms and natural areas.
Meet one of the canine team, an odour detection dog will be on site to demonstrate how powerful her nose is at finding yellow crazy ants.
There will be fun and games to up your ANTy on identifying the distinguishable features of these invasive pests, followed by a free lunch.
Please RSVP for catering by visiting the Yellow Crazy Ant Community Taskforce Facebook page event or contact the coordinator on 0409 647 714 or email@example.com.
Invasive ant identification workshop in 2019. From left Jeff Jackson (Wet Tropics Management Authority), Ciara Bridgland (Yellow Crazy Ant Community Taskforce) and Gary Morton (Biosecurity Queensland) inspecting ants underneath a microscope.
Volunteer With Us
Volunteer and join the Taskforce or stay informed about yellow crazy ants
What’s Coming Up
You want to get involved in our awesome events?
Kuranda tree frog habitat monthly survey
Looking for invasive ants in Kuranda tree frog habitat
WHERE: Owen Creek, Oak Forest Rd, Kuranda
WHEN: Saturday 18 March 2023, 8-12pm
Moderate level of fitness required
No experience necessary; all training provided on the day.
Invasive Ant ID Workshop
WHERE: Kuranda Recreation Centre, Fallon Rd, Kuranda
WHEN: Saturday 4 March 2023, 10-1pm
Please RSVP for catering purposes
On a final note
The Yellow Crazy Ant Community Taskforce is a community-run organisation that assists the Wet Tropics Management Authority in managing the yellow crazy ant infestations in Kuranda.
Volunteers are involved in many aspects of the program including undertaking regular monitoring activities, completing surveys, and attending community engagement activities and events.
We search for both yellow crazy ants and electric ants.
To report illegal dumping contact Mareeba Shire Council on 1300 308 461.
Report yellow crazy ants call 1800 CRAZY ANT
To volunteer with the Yellow Crazy Ant Community Taskforce call (07) 4093 8989, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit @ycacommunitytaskforce Facebook page.