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19 March 2004
The National Invasive Ant Surveillance Programme has once again proved to be
successful when a Crazy ant (Paratrechina longicornis) nest was found during a
routine inspection at the Port of Wellington.
MAF Incursion Investigators found the suspect nest inside a drain and it was
immediately treated with permethrin gas. After treatment, the area was closely
inspected and a large number of dead ants and pupae collected. Although no
queens could be located, judging by the number of dead pupae, MAF Investigators
are confident that the nest has been destroyed.
"An intensive follow up survey around 150 metres of the find is being planned
to ensure the find represents an isolated nest and not a larger infestation.
Surveillance of the remainder of the port site has been completed with no
further crazy ants detected" said Amelia Pascoe, Ministry of Agriculture and
Forestry's (MAF) Programme Co-ordinator Exotic Animal Response.
Although it is not clear how the ants may have entered the country, sea
containers are a known risk pathway for the entry of unwanted pests. Since 1
January 2004 the interior and exterior of every container entering New Zealand
is now checked.
Crazy ants do not a pose a significant human health risk, although they are
undesirable as they are serious household nuisance and hygiene pests. They are
black with an average size of 2.5 to 3mm and can be easily confused with other
ants established in New Zealand. However they have thinner bodies and longer
front legs and antennae than most ants. Crazy ants are extremely fast moving
with an erratic walking pattern.
"Early detection is key to the eradication and control of invasive ant
species," said Ms Pascoe
"Over the last three years, as part of its national invasive ant programme,
MAF has focussed surveillance and monitoring activity on high-risk areas such as
international ports, transitional facilities, container yards and some
"As a result, the programme has been responsible for the early detection and
control of a number of exotic ant species including the eradication of red
imported fire ants from Auckland Airport." For more information on exotic ants,
including MAFs national invasive ant surveillance programme go to:
Joseph Wallace, MAF Assistant Communications Adviser Phone: 0-4-498-9637 or 021-159-7192