Thursday, June 02, 2016

Invasive Argentine ants successfully eradicated from New Zealand

One of the world's most destructive eco-invaders has been eradicated from a popular wildlife sanctuary.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) has announced the invasive Argentine ant has been eliminated from Tiritiri Matangi Island.

The island, in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf, is a haven for native birds and attracts about 30,000 visitors every year.

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry said it is "one of the few places in the world" where the ant has been eradicated.

"They may be small, but these ants are one of the most damaging of all invasive pest species. The World Conservation Union lists them as one of the 100 worst eco-invaders on Earth."

  • Argentine ants were first discovered on the island in 2001.
  • They can form massive super-colonies and are capable of killing native insects, lizards and even birds, and compete with them for food resources, Barry said.
"Once established, they are extremely difficult to remove."

The ants were eradicated using bait and detection methods and biosecurity measures are in place to minimise the risk of reinvasion.

"The risk of reinvasion on Tiritiri Matangi – or other pest-free islands – is very real, and visitors need to make sure they comply with DOC's biosecurity guidelines," Barry said.

The island is managed by the community group Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi in a partnership with DOC.

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