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Expert urges damage control as invader ant digs in


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Ants and bait


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January 16, 2005


Expert urges damage control as invader ant digs in

New Zealanders are being urged to get behind a campaign to control the spread of a foreign invader that threatens to become a major ecological danger.

International ant expert Dr Cas Vanderwoude says that voracious Argentine ants are now well established in New Zealand and, if left unchecked, pose a serious environmental, social and economic threat to New Zealand.

And with New Zealanders moving around the country on holiday, there’s huge potential for the ants to spread to new areas.

“Argentine ants could have as big an impact on New Zealand as wasps have had,” he said.

“It’s vital that we all do our part in limiting their spread – and that means checking your camping equipment to make sure that you are not transporting them,” he said.

Argentine ants are on the world’s top-100 worst-invaders list, and rapidly displace other ants, worms and insects. They swarm in huge numbers and will overrun properties, making it almost impossible for humans to sit outside. They will also invade indoors, swarming into fridges and pantries, and have even been known to strip baby birds to their bones.

Argentine ants were first found in Auckland in 1990, but are now established as far south as Christchurch.

“Unfortunately, when they arrived in New Zealand there was no known way of controlling them,” Dr Vanderwoude said.

“We have now developed a bait that will kill them, but they are too well established to eradicate. The best we can do is to control their impact and their spread, and that means all of us being vigilant.”

Argentine ants have been found in Auckland, Northland, Coromandel Peninsula, the Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Hawke’s Bay, Wellington city, Nelson city and Christchurch. Temperatures in the southern South Island mean that Argentine ants are not expected to spread south of Christchurch.

ENDS

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