Meeting with Invasive Species Council 27/02/2023 -Yellow Crazy Ants

Terrestrial spider killed by Yellow Crazy Ants Photo M.Tattersall


2 reps  Invasive Species  Council, Canberra, 1 rep Townsville Yellow Crazy Ant Taskforce Coordinator (ISC). 1 rep CDTLI (Coastal Dry Tropics Landcarel Inc). 2 rep Birdlife Townsville, 1 rep NQCC (North Queensland Conservation Council) Malcolm  Tattersall, 1 rep Townsville Hiking Group, 2 reps WPSQ Townsville (Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland) Pam Cocks and Malcolm Tattersall.

Purpose of meeting

How to engage community input and surveillance of Yellow Crazy Ants via Citizen Science.

Groups that spend time outdoors can be excellent surveyors of areas where the ants may have moved. This includes school groups as well.

It is suggested that an App (iNaturalist) can be downloaded onto mobile phones and a photo with GPS data attached can be directly downloaded when back in reception area. The data can be made private for areas that should not be made public. A microscope can be attached to a mobile phone camera to give a more detailed view. These are inexpensive and the Invasive Species Council are hoping to buy in bulk.

The Invasive Species Council Is hoping to create a Yellow Crazy Ant group within iNaturalist.

All records of the ant will be checked.

If you can’t identify an ant, still put the image on iNaturalist and experts in the field will be able to identify it.

Yellow Crazy Ant trying to rescue pupa Photo M.Tattersall

Yellow Crazy Ants.  Description: from Townsville City Council Website.

  • Yellow to brownish ant with long and slender body (approximately 5mm long)
  • Abdomen is dark brown, sometimes striped
  • Legs and antennae are very long
  • Walking style is erratic

Locations in Townsville where the ants are located at present.

  • Alligator Creek
  • Black River
  • Douglas
  • Mt St John
  • Nome
  • Stuart

Yellow Crazy Ant nest found under drum in Alligator Creek area Photo M.Tattersall

Comments from locals in affected areas.

Difficult to keep out of house. Have to use insecticide spray.

Tawny Frogmouths nesting under eaves of house as trees covered in ants.

Ants eat everything including other ants, insects, lizards, birds, nesting mammals and pets.

They spray formic acid causing burns on skin.

Areas where ants are found are much quieter as wildlife has moved away, no birds.

Excerpt from Malcolm Tattersall’s report to NQCC after visit to Alligator Creek area (not inside National Park yet).  “The experience was a shock, I have to say, mainly because it made the scale and urgency of the problem so clear. They pose an existential threat to all small wildlife in affected areas, and “affected areas” means the whole of the extent in which any YCA live because they claim territory and then dominate it.”

Townsville Yellow Crazy Ant Taskforce (ISC)

The Yellow Crazy Ant Taskforce has been greatly expanded (February/March) with 23 people employed to survey sites, treat insect infestations and follow up surveillance as well as obtaining permits within a much shorter time frame than previously. They are working in conjunction with the Townsville City Council.

Information outings with local groups are planned in the future.  It was suggested WPSQ could combine with the Birdlife Townsville group to view sites affected. The President of Birdlife Townsville agreed to this.

I suggest everyone who has a smart phone downloads the iNaturalist app before the next excursion. We can help each other to become familiar with the app and contribute to citizen science by documenting ants on all our outings.

Pam Cocks.




















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