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Crazy Ants found at Mount Maunganui wharf

Crazy Ants found at Mount Maunganui wharf

Three crazy ant (Paratrechina longicornis) nests were found during routine inspection at the Mount Maunganui wharf of the Port of Tauranga earlier this month. The find was part of the national invasive ant surveillance programme led by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF). The programme is targeted at red imported fire ant and crazy ants. All three nests were found within a 50 metre radius of each other and have since been treated with insecticide. Ongoing monitoring of the site is in place.

Amelia Pascoe, MAF Programme co-ordinator Exotic Animal Response, said discovery of the nests followed the finding of 10 worker ants in one of the bait traps located at the wharf during the surveillance programme.

Ms Pascoe said MAF have concentrated on containing and eradicating these new finds, looking for any further signs of activity in the area and investigating likely source of entry. MAF has distributed information to businesses within the area to be on the alert for any signs of unusual ant activity.

“Crazy ants 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,” she said.

Awareness of exotic ants in the Mount Maunganui area is high due to the ongoing surveillance programme for Argentine ants run by Environment Bay of Plenty over the last four years. The programme has effectively drawn upon support from local businesses and the community in controlling the pest.

MAF became aware of the presence of crazy ants in New Zealand in April last year when two species of the ant were found on wharves at the Auckland port. These infestations were chemically treated and monitoring of these sites is continuing.

The national invasive ant surveillance programme runs from January to April. Activities in Tauranga run from February to March.

Note: – The red imported fire ant has not been detected in New Zealand since a single detection at Auckland International Airport in March 2001.

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