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Be Aware – Argentine Ants On The Move

Taranaki Regional Council media release
For immediate release
16 December 2008

Be Aware – Argentine Ants On The Move

Argentine ants are on the move in Taranaki but some basic precautions may help to limit their spread.

An education campaign by the Taranaki Regional Council this month has resulted in the discovery of new infestations at Fitzroy and the Belt Road area in New Plymouth. The ants were earlier discovered at Waitara, Bell Block, Blagdon, Westown, Oakura and Patea.

Considered one of the world’s most problematic and invasive species, the Argentine ant is among the targets of the Council’s Pest Management Strategy for Taranaki. The Council’s Animal Pest Manager, Steve Ellis, is urging everyone in the region to take some simple steps in an effort to limit the spread of the ants.

“The ants are spreading by hitching rides in vehicles, in pot plants, in rubbish bags or bins, or in camping gear and the like,” he says. “We’re urging anyone taking such things out of known infested areas to make a quick check that they haven’t got any of these unwelcome hitchhikers.”

Despite their fearsome reputation, the ants are quite small – 2mm to 3 mm long. They are light to dark honey-brown in colour – most other common household ants in New Zealand are black and slightly larger at 3mm to 4mm long.

Argentine ants establish huge nests and utilize any food source they can find. They have been found in microwaves, refrigerators and screw-top jars. They climb trees and can kill baby birds in their nests. They also target native skinks and lizards, and are a major threat to crops.

Most common poisons are ineffective against Argentine ants but the Council can supply effective bait and poison at a cost of around $60 per household per year. Under the Pest Management Strategy’s rules, residents are responsible for controlling infestations on their property.

For more information, go to www.trc.govt.nz and click on the link “All about Argentine ants”. Or call the Taranaki Regional Council on 0800 736 222 and ask to speak to a Pest Management Officer.

ENDS

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