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ChCh call for help in eradicating Argentine Ant

Christchurch agencies call for help in eradicating Argentine Ant

The Argentine Ant has recently infested a large area of Ridgeway in Stoke near Nelson and has previously infested some parts of Christchurch.

Argentine Ants have been found in three Christchurch locations and this summer the Department of Conservation, Environment Canterbury and Christchurch City Council will be working together to eliminate the remains of known colonies and identify any other Argentine Ants in the city.

The ants are 2mm-3mm long and a light to dark honey brown colour, whereas native ants are usually black. They can travel in multiple lines rather than single file and unlike Darwin's Ant don't smell when they are squashed.

Argentine Ants move very quickly, much faster than black ants, and are attracted to meat as well as sweet foods. Good places to check for them include pot plants and outdoor equipment, specially for anyone who has recently moved to Christchurch from the North Island.

Department of Conservation entomologist Alison Evans said, "the key to eradicating Argentine Ants from Christchurch is for people to seek professional help or ring the Department of Conservation if they think they have them in their home or garden."

"They should not try to control them by themselves as most insecticides will make nests disperse and the ants multiply more rapidly," she said.

A hotline number is to be set up for people to register suspected Argentine Ant infestations this summer.

"The Argentine Ant is one of the world's worst pests," Dr Evans said. "In households they can make their way into cupboards, cellars and even fridges. In gardens they can displace native insects and will attack nesting birds as well as compete with nectar eaters. We are particularly concerned about the effects that this insect could have on the ecology of places such as Banks Peninsula and Riccarton Bush," she said.

"Christchurch may however be the southern limit for Argentine Ants, so it may be possible for us to eradicate known populations from the city before they become too widespread."

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