26 September 2023

Sugar ants souring problems for DPIRD

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Perth residents are being asked to look out for the invasive pest, African black sugar ant.

Technical Manager at the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), John Van Schagen reported that residents near industrial areas had been asked to be particularly vigilant after the pest was discovered at a house in Kenwick.

“Previous infestations have been within industrialised areas and businesses,” Mr Van Schagen said.

“However, a resident from Kenwick recently submitted a sample to the DPIRD for testing because they appeared unusual and were infesting the house in large numbers,” he said.

“Since 2020, African black sugar ant (Lepisiota incisa) has been found within industrial or business areas in Maddington, Welshpool, Fremantle, Wattleup, Forrestfield, Hazelmere, Maida Vale, Jandakot, Balcatta and Kenwick, along with Narrogin, 190 kilometres south-east of Perth.”

He said the ant was a pest of national significance and all known infestations were subject to eradication.

“They appear highly suited to Australian conditions, have demonstrated a capacity to produce super-colonies, and pose a significant threat to our environment, agricultural industries and human amenity,” Mr Van Schagen said.

“The ant is known to out-compete native ants and it has a strong potential to establish in a wide variety of habitats, including undisturbed bush areas.”

He said they could also infest electrical boxes and components, causing damage to infrastructure.

Mr Van Schagen said African black sugar ants were ordinary-looking ants, shiny dark-brown and about three millimetres in length, with no real odour when crushed.

“We ask people to be on the lookout for high numbers of ants on their property, particularly ants that all look the same, as this species is known for displacing other ant species in areas where it establishes,” he said.

“The DPIRD is working with the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and local businesses to eradicate this pest,” Mr Van Schagen said.

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