Check out what we've been up to in November 2022
Winning for the frogs
The most recent Warril Creek survey showed no invasive ants. This is the sixth survey we have completed in the lower reaches of creeks in Kuranda tree frog habitat.
The search continues for both electric ants and yellow crazy ants as part of our monthly survey activity. You are invited to join in on the fun. No experience necessary however an average level of fitness is required due to some steep terrain.
Our next survey is Saturday 26 November at Owen Creek. Get in touch as limited spaces are available.
At Warril Creek, a pink flag is placed next to the lure every 5 metres for ease of relocating an hour later to check for invasive ants.
The Wet Tropics World Heritage Area is home to many important species.
Wet Tropics Management Authority’s Yellow Crazy Ant Eradication Program field staff supports the Taskforce (from left, Taskforce volunteer Paul and Authority staff Lukasz and Adam)
The Barron River and its tributaries are home to the Kuranda tree frog and many other important species who are under threat from invasive ants.
Bulmba Rangers skilling up
The Wet Tropics Management Authority has teamed up with Biosecurity Queensland to deliver specific invasive ant training on country, and the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. The Djabugay Bulmba Rangers recently received this training and conducted a practical survey on country at the Barron Falls. In the long term it would be advantageous to incorporate this work into pest and weed prevention plans. This will also serve as a legacy project of the program for when the current program concludes.
(Photo credit -Wet Tropics Management Authority) Andrew Vakaci from the Authority, sharing important information about yellow crazy ants with the Djabugay Bulmba Rangers.
(Photo credit -Wet Tropics Management Authority) Biosecurity Queensland officer sharing knowledge about invasive electric ants.
Who are the Taskforce?
In April 2015 Mikhaila Jacoby officially formed the Kuranda Yellow Crazy Ant Community Taskforce after an infestation of yellow crazy ants swarmed in her backyard at Russett Park near Kuranda. She believed the success of treating the infestation required a community led approach.
In June 2015, Kuranda Envirocare obtained a Wet Tropics Community Grant from Terrain NRM to coordinate volunteers and activities for the Taskforce. Soon there were more than 100 active local volunteers to survey and treat the infestation area.
At the time, ongoing funding to eradicate yellow crazy ants from the Wet Tropics was uncertain, the community mobilised and raised $20,000, half of which was donated by The Kuranda Paper, for research into the biology of yellow crazy ants and collection of ant colonies for set up in a laboratory.
Today, the Yellow Crazy Ant Community Taskforce works alongside the Wet Tropics Management Authority to help find and eradicate yellow crazy ants in and adjacent to the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.
Recently we shared our story with staff at the Authority’s Yellow Crazy Ant Eradication Program operations base.
(Photo credit -Wet Tropics Management Authority)
Taskforce volunteers ready to treat Russett Park in 2016
Yellow crazy ants in Townsville and a community led approach
Did you know there is a Yellow Crazy Ant Community Taskforce in Townsville?
The formation of the Townsville Yellow Crazy Ant Community Taskforce was modelled from the successful community taskforce led by Kuranda Envirocare in managing the eradication of yellow crazy ants in the Kuranda area.
Yellow crazy ants were first discovered in the Townsville region in 2005. There are six known infestations areas – Alligator Creek, Nome, Douglas, Black River, Mount St John and Stuart, with infestation areas named from their locations within the Townsville region.
The infestation at Alligator Creek is expanding and covers a total infestation area of approximately over 900ha.
It is possible other populations of yellow crazy ants in the Townsville region exist undetected.
Figure 1. Some of Townsville’s infestations are close to areas of high conservation significance. Black River infestation is approx. 8km from the southern end of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Alligator Creek infestation is approx. 2.3km from the Mt Elliot section of Bowling Green Bay National Park, which has an exceptionally high number of endemic species that could be wiped out by yellow crazy ants.
Townsville City Council received some funding from Biosecurity Queensland in 2017 to help raise awareness and survey the boundary of yellow crazy ants.
Townsville City Council has led the response in managing yellow crazy ants. They have funded and allocated staff to undertake work with few resources without a dedicated program. The Council’s field staff and biosecurity officers go above and beyond to undertake yellow crazy ant work with limited resources.
Since 2018, the Invasive Species Council (ISC), a non-government organisation, have provided support through part-time staff from sporadic funding and donors to help with yellow crazy ant eradication efforts in Townsville. The support also includes the purchase of ant bait and sticky traps, street signage, community mail outs and attendance at community events and schools.
This year ISC received $20,000 Community Sustainability Action Grant from the Office of the Chief Scientist to fund a part-time coordinator role and resources.
Bev Job from the ISC is leading a local contingent of Townsville residents to fill in some of the funding gap by undertaking citizen science with trained volunteers to assist with baiting and surveillance. The Taskforce is under the supervision of the ISC, with the support of James Cook University and Townsville City Council staff. Wet Tropics Management Authority provides assistance through GIS support, the facilitation of knowledge transfers and the use of an odour detection dog.
Figure 2. Bev Job with Taskforce volunteer Tora Thomas handing out ant ID cards at the Museum of Tropical Queensland for the World Science Festival Queensland 2022.
There has been extensive lobbying from Invasive Species Council and an ABC investigative report that went viral, successfully getting the attention of a national audience and the Townsville.
In the October 2022 Federal budget, Townsville was allocated $12.8 million over four years for the control and eradication of yellow crazy ants.
So why should we care about eradicating yellow crazy ants in Townsville? Re-infestation through human assisted movement threatens all the arduous work and resources committed to eradicating the ants from the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and surrounds. That would be a disaster for the environment and all involved.
Information was sourced from Stopping the March of Yellow Crazy Ants in Townsville scoping report 2020 and the Invasive Species Council website 2022.
What’s Coming Up
You want to get involved in our awesome events?
Looking for invasive ants in Kuranda tree frog habitat
WHERE: Owen Ck, Oak Forest Rd
WHEN: 26 November, 8-12pm
Tropical Tree Day
WHERE: Disney St Reserve, White Rock
WHEN: Saturday 4 December, 8-10am
Invasive Ant ID Workshop
WHERE: Kuranda Recreation Centre, Fallon Rd, Kuranda
WHEN: Saturday 10 December, 10am-1pm
On a final note
The 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 some aspects of the program, including undertaking monitoring activities, completing surveys of known infestation areas and surveys in the surrounding area.
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