Acid-spraying ant-ics spread from Shute Harbour
THEY may be small in size, but the yellow crazy ant is causing big headaches for the Whitsundays and other animals with its acid-spraying antics.
The ant, listed as one of the top 100 worst invasive species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, was first spotted at Shute Harbour with a surveillance program in July 2019 showing an infestation that covered about 35 hectares.
The species has since spread to Funnel Bay with an infestation of about 0.9 hectares.
Ground baiting will take place at the new infestation over the next fortnight, however the ant can cause significant damage to both plants and animals.
Whitsunday Regional Council natural resource management co-ordinator Scott Hardy said the little critters packed a big punch but residents were safe from its nasty acid-spraying ways.
“When (yellow crazy ants) come across food and if they need to kill it, they will drop acid on it,” he said.
“The way they feed is they come across prey like a lizard or something and they’ll swarm it, and they’ll drop acid on it to try and neutralise it and damage it so they can eat it.
“The ants chase protein, so they’ll start at the bottom of the food chain and kill all the other ants and start on the insects because they’re protein as well.
“Then it will start on the lizards, the frogs, the birds, and go up the food chain that way.
“We’re at the top of the food chain thank goodness, it’s a good place to be.”
Mr Hardy said the hiking trails at Coral Beach and Mt Rooper were not affected by the ants.
“The population down at Shute Harbour is not very dense … it’s not to the point where it’s going to impact humans,” he said.
“They might have other ants that will bite you, there’s meat ants and bull ants that will bite you and cause you pain, but the yellow crazy ants aren’t found on the popular walking tracks at this time.”
In the meantime, Mr Hardy asked residents to report any sightings of the ants to council.