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Control of Argentine ants to be coordinated

8 Dec 2010

Control of Argentine ants to be coordinated

A coordinator has been employed to help the district get on top of Argentine ants that are causing problems in parts of the district.

William Dobbie has been appointed by to talk to residents. He will be making people aware of the issues with Argentine ants, providing advice and coordinating neighbours to put bait down at the same time.

“This is a 6 month project to encourage neighbouring properties to act together to control the ants. The control is not so effective if only one property lays bait to rid themselves of the ants and they all scurry next door. The best results are when all neighbours work together,” says biosecurity team leader Phil Karaitiana.

“These ants are more difficult to get rid of than the ants we are all used to. If residents suspect they do have Argentine ants on their property the first step is to get this confirmed. Council can help with this. Residents should either contact William or bring a sample in to Council’s Customer Services. Council does not fund the cost of controlling ants on private property. However we do supply ant bait at cost price. A 325 gram tube of bait costs around $47. When people are paying that sort of money to get rid of the ants it is important that it is effective. That is a why a coordinated approach is so important.”

Mr Dobbie will be carrying out surveys of areas where there is known to be an Argentine ant problem to gauge the extent of spread.  Argentine, and a similar species known as Darwin’s ants are a problem because of their huge numbers and appetite. They are now well established throughout New Zealand. Eradication is no longer realistic.

They form distinctive trails that may be 5 or more ants wide travelling along footpaths, up and along sides of buildings, up tree trunks, along branches and along wooden or concrete fence lines. Multiple queens are produced that form huge colonies with several or more nests on a property.  All colonies are genetically related so there is no in fighting between individual groups and they can quickly blanket an area. Where combined colonies are present they can impact on many out door activities.

The ants eat a wide range of foods such as sweets, and buds of some plants especially the tender honeydew producing species and will forage for foods in homes. They are a problem in gardens and orchards where they protect honeydew producing insects such as aphids and scale insects. The “farming” of these insects by ants allows populations to increase to damaging levels. Native insects and many of our native bird species are also at risk from these ants either through direct attack or by competing with them for resources like nectar or honeydew.

Council is part of a collective of regional councils that are looking at alternative baits and baiting strategies. As new information and baiting options comes to hand the public will be kept informed.

For more information on Argentine ants

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