Electric ant (Wasmania auropunctata) is regarded as one of the world’s worst invasive species. This ant is exotic to Australia and is a serious threat to our environment.

These ants can inflict painful, venomous stings on humans, wildlife and domestic animals.

 

Detection in Australia

Electric ants were first detected in 2006 in Cairns, Queensland. The infestation was close to a World Heritage-listed rainforest.

More than 207 infestations and 567 hectares of infested area have been detected. Affected council areas in Far North Queensland include:

  • Cairns
  • Cassowary Coast
  • Tablelands
  • Douglas
  • Mareeba

Response program

The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF) leads the response to this outbreak.

This ant is a nationally significant pest under the National Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement (NEBRA).

The program covers all aspects of the response including:

  • a surveillance and monitoring program
  • treatment to eradicate the ant at infected sites
  • movement restrictions at high-risk sites and on potential host material
  • monitoring after treatment for at least 24 months to ensure the area remains pest free.

The plan was endorsed through the national emergency response arrangements. Costs are shared between the Australian, state and territory governments. The Queensland government contributes extra resources and funding to the eradication program.

The response program has reduced the significant negative impacts of this pest.

See more at Electric ant (business.qld.gov.au).

See more

How we coordinate a response to an outbreak.

Your obligations

Report any unusual ants, even if you’re not sure.

Take care not to move the ant on goods, vehicles, clothes or plant material (including soil).

Report sightings

If you live in Queensland and suspect electric ants, report them as soon as possible. Even if you’re not sure.

Report electric ants in Queensland via an online form. Or you can call Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

You can request a property survey online (QDAF). Or you can call Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

Call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881 from anywhere in Australia to report signs of electric ants.

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).

Movement restrictions

Movement restrictions are mandated at infested sites. You must adhere to them. They ensure the ant is not moved out of the area or interstate.

Check Queensland restrictions.

Avoid accidentally spreading electric ants. Use the interactive map to check what movement restrictions are on a property.

See more on electric ant in your state or territory:

You can also check the Australian Interstate Quarantine website.

About the pest

Electric ant is an exotic invasive ant and an environment pest. It can seriously impact people and infrastructure. Electric ant can spread through human movement and invade houses, backyards and pools.

The ant is found in Central, North and South America, Africa, Taiwan, Israel, Puerto Rico and Cuba. It has also been recorded in 6 Pacific Island groups. This includes the Galapagos Islands, Hawaii, New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands.

What to look for

Electric ant is tiny and golden-brown. It can live in a range of habitats, nesting both indoors and outdoors.

Electric ants
Photo: www.alexanderwild.com
Electric ants
Electric ant (Wasmannia auropunctata). Photo: Simon Hinkley & Ken Walker, Museum Victoria

How it spreads

Electric ants can hitchhike on goods and vehicles. They can move with shipping containers and cargo. They can also hide in soil, mulch, fertiliser and plant material. 

The further the ant spreads, the less chance there is to eradicate it.

Impacts

Electric ants are pests which prey on and compete with other insects. They can displace large numbers of native animals, insects and some plants. They can inflict painful stings on people and animals, both wild and domestic.

Electric ants can also affect the agricultural industry. They damage the plants they feed on and reduce competition from other crop pests.

Exotic invasive ants are included on:

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