INVASIVE swarms of electric ants are under attack in the Far North with residents urged to get involved in an eradication program to eliminate the critters.
The National Electric Ant Eradication Program is conducting a ‘Join The Ant Hunt’ campaign in the Cairns area from mid-March to the end of April, to raise awareness and gain access to residents’ properties to check for any signs of electric ants.
Cairns MP Michael Healy said residents and businesses who had bought or swapped pot plants in the past few years, or who suspect they may have electric ants on their property, could register online for a free yard check.
“Since the National Electric Ant Eradication Program started in 2006, almost all new electric ant infestations have been caused by the ants being spread by people,” he said.
“Almost 94 per cent of new finds are either traced back to pot plants being shared, swapped or sold at markets, or, from people illegally dumping green waste instead of taking it to the tip or transfer station.”
National Electric Ant Eradication Program Coordinator Gary Morton said for the campaign to succeed, properties of anyone who has moved, shared or swapped pot plants in the last couple of years need to be checked.
“We also need to check the properties of anyone who may have been stung by something getting in under their shirt while out in the garden or while in the pool,” Mr Morton said.
“Electric ants like to live in pot plants and garden litter, and because they are so small and difficult to identify, it really does take one of our expert field staff to confirm that your property doesn’t have them.”
Electric ants have been found in Cairns, Port Douglas, Mareeba, Cassowary Coast and in Tablelands over the last 11 years.
They are highly invasive and pose a threat to agriculture, the environment and human health.
Cairns Regional Council Mayor Bob Manning said council was doing everything it could to help with the eradication of electric ants from the region.
“Electric ants can impact on our environment and our way of life,” Cr Manning said.
“We all have a responsibility to protect the ecosystem of our region, which takes in the World Heritage listed Wet Tropics Rainforest.
“By participating in the free yard check program, our residents can actively contribute to the preservation of our unique and amazing ecosystem.”
For more information, or to book a free yard check visit www.anthunt.daf.qld.gov.au or call 13 25 23.