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Watch For Argentine And Darwin Ant Infestations This Summer

Media Release
7 November 2012

Watch For Argentine And Darwin Ant Infestations This Summer

Invasive ant species are now found in a number of sites throughout Hawke’s Bay, and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council biosecurity staff will be surveying new sites for Argentine ant this summer, as well as adding Darwin’s ants to the programme.

Over the past 4 years, HBRC Biosecurity staff have been talking with residents who have Argentine ants on their properties and providing advice for control and containing the spread of this pest. However, they also rely on the public reporting any possible new infestations.

“Summer is an excellent time to look for these ants as they are on the move and we are also outside enjoying the warmer weather,” says Alice McNatty, biosecurity officer.

“It is also the best time for anyone who has Argentine or Darwin’s ants on their property to control these pests.”

Both Argentine and Darwin’s ants are a light brown or honey colour, rather than the darker colours of most common ants.

Argentine ants are slightly bigger (2.5mm – 3mm) than Darwin’s ants (2mm). An easy way of telling them apart is by crushing an ant - Darwin’s ant gives off a strong formic acid odour, whereas there is no smell to Argentine ants when crushed.

Residents can ensure they don’t accidentally take Argentine or Darwin’s ants home with them by checking firewood, potted plants, compost, mulch and vehicles for ants matching these descriptions.

Argentine and Darwin’s ant infestations are frequently not detected until they have reached the stage of becoming a nuisance, by which stage they are well established. As the ants are aggressive and work in large numbers, they become a major lifestyle pest, infesting gardens and homes, reducing other insect and animal species, and impacting on horticulture. Argentine ant bites are not poisonous, but can be irritating and cause allergic-type reactions in some people.

Anyone who finds ants matching the description on their property, can contact Ms McNatty for more information and advice on 06 833 8083 or 0800 108 838. People can also collect some ants in a jar labelled with the resident’s contact details, and bring them into Hawke’s Bay Regional Council offices in Napier to have them identified.


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