African black sugar ant (Lepisiota incisa) is a small exotic pest ant.
The ant is an environmental pest and could cause problems for infrastructure. It does not sting people or pets.
Detection in Australia
African black sugar ant was first detected in Western Australia (WA) in January 2020. It’s unknown how and when the ant entered Australia.
The detection was made at a commercial premises during routine surveillance by WA. In September 2020, multiple detections had been made in Perth. Some were estimated to have been there for 4-5 years before they were found.
As of March 2023, there are 14 known clusters places where the ant has been found. These clusters are distributed across Perth metropolitan and regional suburbs. The suburbs include Maddington, Welshpool, Wattleup, Forrestfield, Hazelmere, Maida Vale, Jandakot, Balcatta, Kenwick, and Narrogin.
This ant is a nationally significant pest under the National Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement (NEBRA). The WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) leads this response.
A response plan that program has been approved that aims to eradicate the ant. It covers all aspects of the response, including:
- a surveillance and trapping program
- treatment to eradicate the antat industrial, residential and bushland areas.
- movement restrictions at high-risk sites and on potential host material.
- continued monitoring following treatment of an infested premises for at least 24 months.
The plan was endorsed through the national emergency response arrangements. Costs are shared between the Australian, state and territory governments. The WA government contributes additional resources and funding to the eradication program.
You can help contain this ant by reporting any suspected sightings. Take care not to move the ant on goods, vehicles, clothes or plant material (including soil).
Report suspected sightings of Black sugar ant immediately, even if you’re not sure.
Pest and Disease Information Service (PaDIS)
T: (08) 9368 3080
Report to DPIRD through the MyPestGuide Reporter app or call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.
For signs of exotic pests and diseases in imported goods, sea containers or parcels, call See. Secure. Report on 1800 798 636 or use our online form.
Follow the rules
Keep exotic dangerous pests and diseases out of Australia. Never ignore our strict biosecurity rules.
Import shipments may need to be treated and certified. Before you import, check our Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON).
The WA government has put movement restrictions in place. This is to stop the movement of host material from infected or suspect premises.
About the pest
African black sugar ant, an ant native to Africa. It is one of several invasive exotic ant species that form super colonies. It has interconnected nests with many queens. A single colony can spread for hundreds of square kilometres. African black sugar ant can establish in a wide variety of habitats. It can thrive in urban areas and undisturbed bush areas. Established colonies can disrupt social and business activity.
The ant can harvest plastic and damage electrical equipment and infrastructure. It is not known to be a horticultural pest. The ant displays aggressive behaviour towards other ant species. It can outcompete native ants.
The African black sugar ant has a shortened head and thorax. It’s a shiny dark brown colour with thick blackish bristles. The upper surface of its lower body midsection has a deep notch on both ends. Its hairless legs are mostly yellow.
How it spreads
The ant can spread by the movement of goods, vehicles and on clothes.
Shipping containers, soil, mulch, fertiliser and plant material can also spread the ant.
The further the ant spreads, the less chance there is to eradicate it.
Exotic invasive ants are included on:
- National Priority List of Exotic Environmental Pests, Weeds and Diseases (2020)
- National Priority Plant Pest List (2019).
This is due to their impact on native species and our environment.
See more about the response program or African black sugar ant.
- African black sugar ant (WA Government)
- African black sugar ant factsheet (WA Government)
- National Priority Plant Pest List (2019) (agriculture.gov.au)
- National Priority List of Exotic Environmental Pests, Weeds and Diseases (2020) (agriculture.gov.au)