Queensland Government Media Release - Electric Ants to be Eradicated

Submitted by Webmaster on Thu, 01/06/2006 - 09:30

Queensland Government Media Release 31 May 2006 Pest Ants found near Cairns to be eradicated The Departments of Natural Resources, Mines and Water;Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPI&F) and the EnvironmentalProtection Agency will begin on-site work this week in a bid toeradicate a new pest found in Smithfield, near Cairns. This is the first time the pest, the Electric Ant(Wasmannia auropunctata) has been found inAustralia. A  local member of the public reported the pest toDPI&F biosecurity officers, who were able to confirm that it isthe Electric Ant. The ElectricAnt is native to central and South America and isknow to have been introduced to Africa, North America and PacificIslands such as New Caledonia. The pest poses no threat to primary industry production, butcan cause painful, itchy persistent pimples on humans if bitten.This reaction to bites is the reason for its other common nameof “little fire ant,” but the Electric Ant is notrelated to fire ants in any way. However, the technical expertise of the Fire Ant ControlCentre will be utilised in the initial response to the new pest.Since the Electric Ant was first identified in Smithfield,Queensland Government officers have moved quickly to undertakesurveillance and determine the extent of the infestation. To date the Electric Ant has only been found in a small area surrounding the original sighting. Provisions will be made to implement control measures tominimise any further spread of the pest, including controls overmovement of soil and other items which may pose a risk of spreading thepest. Tracing is also being undertaken in a bid to determine how thepest made its way to Queensland. Where eradication of the Electric Anthas been implemented in a number of overseas locations, it has beenvery successful. Local residents in the affected area can be assured that theywill be consulted in relation to the eradication measures and therewill be no risk to people or pets. Detailed information on the pest, the treatments to be appliedand the movement control measures required as part of the response willbe announced soon. Further information contact: (phone number removed by Future of Cairns - use 13 25 23 which is the fire ant control hotline, you can also send us an e-mail). Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Water; Departmentof Primary Industries and Fisheries; and, Environmental ProtectionAgency.

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