Yellow crazy ants FAQs

The following Frequently Asked Questions have been distributed to landholders in areas infested by yellow crazy ants. They discuss why the ants need to be eradicated, what chemicals are being used, and a range of safety issues.

Download the yellow crazy ant eradication FAQs for AntOff

Download the yellow crazy ant eradication FAQs for Engage P

Where are the areas that need treatment for yellow crazy ants?

There are about 500 properties in and around Mt Peter and Bentley Park that are within the treatment area of 800 hectares. There is also a smaller infestation of about 32 hectares at Russett Park near Kuranda.

Why are affected residents receiving a notification about yellow crazy ants?

Yellow crazy ants are restricted matter, category three, under the Biosecurity Act 2014. They have been found on your property or close to your property. The Wet Tropics Management Authority is managing a five-year program aimed at eradicating these YCA infestations from your area. We are seeking your cooperation to allow us to treat your property with insecticide.

What do yellow crazy ants look like?

Adult yellow crazy ants are yellowish-tan or orange-yellow with a brown abdomen (sometimes striped), about 5mm in length, with very long legs and antennae and a long slender body. They are half the size of the common green ant and have erratic, frantic, “crazy” movement. Any ants that are black, dark brown or dark red are unlikely to be crazy ants.

Where do yellow crazy ants make their nests?

Yellow crazy ants nest on the ground in soil and prefer areas with access to water or some moisture. They nest in and below woody debris and rocks, at the bases of trees, or underneath leaf litter. In suburban areas, they have been found in rock walls, pool filters, garden beds, mulch, baled hay, plant pots, fence lines and carports.

What is a yellow crazy ant and why are they so bad?

Yellow crazy ants are one of the world’s 100 worst invasive species. These ants have multiple queens and can form densely populated super-colonies. These super-colonies have a huge impact on our natural environment, including native animals and plants that live in the nearby Wet Tropics World Heritage rainforests. Not only that, they will impact on your lifestyle if they haven’t already.

How can they impact on my lifestyle?

Unlike other ants that bite or sting, yellow crazy ants spray formic acid to defend themselves or subdue prey. This can be a danger to your family and pets.
The acid can burn or irritate broken skin and can cause temporary blindness if sprayed in the eyes. At high densities YCA invade houses, patios and children’s play equipment looking for food and nesting sites. As the density of ant numbers increases, this can restrict the ability of residents, and particularly children, to use and enjoy their homes and play areas.

What kind of insecticide will be used on my property?

The ant bait being applied to properties is called ‘AntOff’. It is granular bait that consists of a fishmeal-based ant attractant and an insecticide called ‘Fipronil’. Fipronil is a broad-spectrum insecticide that is used in agricultural, residential and veterinary situations. It is used for the control of many domestic and agricultural insect pests including the control of termites, cockroaches and ants in residential and commercial buildings. In veterinary situations, Fipronil products are used as spray or concentrated spot-on formulations to control fleas and ticks that live on the skin of dogs and cats.

How many times will my property need to be treated with insecticide?

The Wet Tropics yellow crazy ant eradication program is a five-year program involving three rounds of treatment each year for three years (approximately three months apart) at critical stages in the ants’ lifecycle. This means we will be seeking access to treat your property a total of nine times. In parallel with the treatment of residential areas we will be undertaking aerial treatments with a helicopter over cane paddocks and about 20ha of the Wet Tropics World Heritage rainforest where the ants have invaded.

How, where and when will the bait be applied?

A qualified pest technician from Safeway Pest Control will apply the granular bait using a hand spreader. It will only be applied to your yards. There is no need for the bait to be applied inside houses. It will not be applied to any swimming pools or any other water features. Baiting will commence in May 2014 for a period of about four weeks. It will only take about 20 minutes to treat a standard house block.

What you need to do

Sign the enclosed consent form and give it to the YCA treatment team when they visit.

Note: The YCA treatment team will be a staff member from the Wet Tropics Management Authority, a Conservation Volunteer or a qualified pest controller.

After treatments please don’t water or hose treated areas within 24 hours as moisture can diminish bait effectiveness or turn the bait mouldy and unattractive to ants.

Do I need to be at home during the treatment?

After you have given consent there is no need for you to be home when the pest controller comes to treat your property, so long as all your yard areas are accessible. The pest controller will leave a ‘calling card’ to advise you when your property was treated.

Should I also be treating my house and yard while eradication efforts are happening?

Please restrict your treatment to using surface spray around doorways and window frames to prevent ants entering your house. Do not treat your garden or nature strip as this will reduce the number of worker ants available to take the AntOff throughout the nest and to the queens. 

What health and safety precautions do I need to know about?

The yellow crazy ant bait treatments pose negligible risks to public health. The low concentrations of fipronil used in AntOff and the low application rate make this product non-hazardous by Australian worksafe standards. However, as a precautionary measure, it is advised that you avoid direct contact with the bait and not undertake recreational activities within the treated area that may result in direct contact with the bait for at least 24 hours after treatment. Additionally, when mowing treated areas for the first time after treatment it is recommended that trousers, enclosed shoes and long sleeved shirt be worn. Fipronil is not mutagenic (does not cause genetic changes) or teratogenic (does not cause birth defects). The Material Safety Data Sheet for AntOff can be viewed by visiting our stamp out yellow crazy ants page.

What about my livestock or pets?

The yellow crazy ant bait treatments pose negligible risks to public health. The low concentrations of fipronil used in AntOff and the low application rate make this product non-hazardous by Australian worksafe standards. However, as a precautionary measure, it is advised that you avoid direct contact with the bait and not undertake recreational activities within the treated area that may result in direct contact with the bait for at least 24 hours after treatment. Additionally, when mowing treated areas for the first time after treatment it is recommended that trousers, enclosed shoes and long sleeved shirt be worn. Fipronil is not mutagenic (does not cause genetic changes) or teratogenic (does not cause birth defects). The Material Safety Data Sheet for AntOff can be viewed by visiting our stamp out yellow crazy ants page.

How do the ants spread?

Yellow crazy ants are mostly spread when they hitch a ride with people in timber, soil, vegetation, garden waste, pot plants, building materials and earth moving equipment. They produce new queens during the wet season and spread out from the source colony by ‘budding’. YCA infestations can move up to one metre a day.

Can I move anything containing yellow crazy ants?

No. A person must not spread yellow crazy ants in soil, garden waste or other high-risk materials such as timber. Do not move high-risk materials off your property until treatment is completed, including skip bins.

After this time, only dispose of vegetation, plants and soil at approved council sites, otherwise there is a high risk of spreading the infestations and compromising eradication efforts. You can help by not moving pot plants off your property, but if you are moving home, at the very least please, please spray your pots with surface spray insecticide beforehand.

Where can I get more information?

Contact Lucy Karger or Gareth Humphreys at the Wet Tropics Management Authority on 42410500 or the Authority’s website stamp out tramp ants page.

 

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