Dangerous pest ant stamped out at Perth Airport

Dangerous pest ant stamped out at Perth Airport
Dangerous pest ant stamped out at Perth Airport

A COMBINED effort by biosecurity officers, local businesses and detector dogs has stamped out an exotic pest ant at Perth Airport.

Browsing ant Lepisiota frauenfeldi has been eradicated after a three-year program by the Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA) in conjunction with the Federal Government.

Department biosecurity and regulation executive director Kevin Chennell said browsing ant was a tramp ant native to southern Europe.

He said it could cause significant damage to native species, the environment, horticulture and apiculture if it became established in WA.

The pest ant is suited to Australian conditions and can form multi-queened super-colonies, displacing native ant species and other invertebrates, which diminishes available food for higher order organisms such as lizards, birds and frogs.

The first known Australian detection of browsing ant was at Perth Airport in 2013, followed by detection at a freight depot in Belmont in August 2014.

“Under a program funded by the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, DAFWA has been working with more than 70 businesses in Belmont and at Perth Airport in an effort to eradicate the pest,” Dr Chennell said.

“Two dogs specially trained by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to detect the odour of browsing ants, were deployed in May to help in surveillance for these ants and validate successful eradication at Perth Airport.”

While eradication has been declared at the airport, efforts are continuing at Belmont with hope of eradication in the near future.

“We may have these dogs return again soon to check the Belmont site to verify our current surveillance to date and confirm the area is free of browsing ants,” Dr Chennell said.