Joint media release: Knockout blow delivered to invasive pests in Cairns

The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, Minister for the Environment and Water
Senator Nita Green, Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef, Senator for Queensland
The Hon Leanne Linard, Queensland Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef
The Hon Curtis Pitt, Member for Mulgrave 

The Federal and Queensland Labor Governments are today celebrating the successful eradication of yellow crazy ants from two sites totalling 48 hectares south of Cairns.

This is a huge win for nature and a massive relief for residents of the affected areas.

Exotic invasive yellow crazy ants are among the most serious global invasive pests. They kill native animals and leave a path of destruction in their wake.

The two sites where yellow crazy ants have been eradicated total the equivalent almost 70 soccer fields and include sugarcane and hillside forest sites in Mount Peter and Wrights Creek.

The sites were identified in 2017 and 2018 and have gone through long-term treatment and intensive surveys, including periodic surveillance by highly trained odour detection dogs, before being declared as eradicated.  

Following the $24 million boost from the Federal and Queensland Labor Governments for the Yellow Crazy Ant Eradication Program, the Wet Tropics Management Authority has reached a significant turning point, with numerous other sites soon to be declared eradicated. 70 per cent of the overall infestation area is now under long term monitoring rather than broadscale treatment.

The community should remain vigilant and are encouraged to report any sightings of suspicious ants to the Wet Tropics Management Authority at or call 4241 0525.

Quotes attributable to the Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek:

“It’s great to see that with help from the Federal and Queensland Labor governments the hard work of the Cairns community is paying off.

“The Wet Tropics is a region of spectacular scenery and is one of the largest areas of rainforest wilderness in Australia.

“When yellow crazy ants spread, they can quickly outnumber native species and invade their habitat, killing and displacing native species and wreaking havoc for agriculture.

“Eradicating this pest will help protect the tropical rainforests of North Queensland for the native species that live there, like the southern cassowary, mahogany glider and northern bettong.

“There is still a lot of work to do, but it’s important to stop and celebrate wins like this for the Authority and the community. It takes years of treatment efforts and community support to achieve eradication. Congratulations to all involved.”

Quotes attributable to the Queensland Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Leanne Linard:

“Yellow crazy ants are one of the world’s most invasive species. Their extremely aggressive nature makes them a significant threat to not only the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, but to our community and the region’s economy as a whole.

“The eradication effort at these two sites included five treatments over two years to reduce ant numbers, followed by several years of surveys and spot treatments.

“This forms part of a 14-stage process used from detection to eradication. This helps track progress and guide decision-making specific to each individual site, before eradication can be declared.

“The Wet Tropics Management Authority has established strong partnerships and collaboration with numerous stakeholders and continues to receive considerable support from the local community, industry, local business, and Traditional Owners.

“These eradications continue to reinforce the benefits of working collaboratively with the community to bring about great outcomes in the fight to eradicate yellow crazy ants.”

Quotes attributable to Nita Green, Senator for Queensland:

“Late last year I saw firsthand the great work the Wet Tropics Management Authority does in combatting yellow crazy ants.

“Eradicating these invasive pests is no small feat, and this just goes to show how important the investment of the State and Federal Government is in this work, protecting our precious native wildlife now and into the future.

“I commend the work that’s been done and I look forward to hearing about the progress WTMA continues to make in the fight against yellow crazy ants.”

Quotes attributable to Curtis Pitt, Member for Mulgrave:

“The local community is right behind the Wet Tropics Management Authority in their battle to eradicate Yellow Crazy ants from these sites in Mt Peter and Wrights Creek.

“We love that we live in the iconic Wet Tropics area and want to see it protected.

“I’m sure the community will join with me in congratulating the Wet Tropics Management Authority on this important milestone and continue to work with them into the future.”

Quotes attributable to Wet Tropics Management Authority Yellow Crazy Ant Eradication Program Manager Lucy Karger:

“We have now been able to declare six sites eradicated in the region. This is a big achievement for the team, our partners and for the landholders.

“It takes a lot of time, resources and cooperation from the community before we can confidently declare a site as yellow crazy ant-free. We are very grateful to the landholders for their support and thrilled to tick these two sites off our list.

“It’s important the community continues to report any suspect ants as early detection is crucial to containing and treating possible new infestations before they become out of hand.”