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Byron Shire
May 22, 2024

Caution advised in treatment of yellow crazy ants

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Yellow Crazy Ants,(noplolepis gracilipes). Photo Forest & Kim Starr (USGS) / Wikipedia

The National Toxics Network has advised caution regarding the use of the chemical pesticide Fipronil for the treatment of a yellow crazy ant in Lismore but stopped short of opposing its use.

The group’s reaction comes amid news of a spread of the feral species in areas around Lismore and community concerns that other creatures including bees and frogs could potentially be affected.

NSW DPI has announced two new infestations of the ants in the region, one at Goonellabah and the other at Terania Creek, including approximately 100 square metres of rugged, steep bush bordering Nightcap National Park.

DPI’s invasive species programs manager, Scott Charlton, confirmed the new infestations late last week.

‘Unfortunately, we can confirm a yellow crazy ant infestation at Terania Creek. We are working with local property owners to investigate where the ants came from while we take immediate steps to control them,’ he said.

‘We have also had a single ant found at Goonellabah and this is being treated as an infested area as no other ants have been found at the property,’ he said.

Bees ‘not affected’

Another DPI spokesperson said the insecticide uses a fish-meal based attractant which does not attract bees.

‘The treatment is applied on the ground and bees don’t forage on the ground,’ the spokesperson said.

‘The operation will follow strict APVMA guidelines and as part of the permit conditions insecticide will not be placed near waterways or stormwater drains to protect waterways and the aquatic environment, including fish and aquatic invertebrates,’ he added.

Toxicity warning

National Toxics Network Jo Immig said the chosen treatment, Fiproonil, was one of three the DPI could have chosen from, the others being methoprene and hydramethylnon.

She told Echonetdaily it was not clear why Fipronil had been chosen but added, ‘it’s good to know they have other options, however, as sensitive locations may require something else’.

‘It does seem possible there could be off-target impacts to frogs and I would add, potentially other creatures such as birds that might eat frogs,’ she said.

‘Clearly the use conditions are designed to minimise those risks, however it would be prudent for the DPI to establish a monitoring process to ensure the application isn’t having those broader impacts.

‘All pesticide use carries risks to workers, communities and the environment. However, in emergency situations their use may be necessary.

‘In order to minimise risks it is vital that those applying pesticides are fully trained and follow all use conditions. It is important these products aren’t applied when rain is expected,’ Ms Immig said.

 


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