World first in fight against Yellow Crazy Ants

Published Friday, 01 March, 2024 at 03:05 PM

Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef and Minister for Science and Innovation
The Honourable Leanne Linard


Minister for the Environment and Water

Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef

Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef

The Wet Tropics Management Authority has declared a further 365 hectares of rainforest, farmland and suburban areas around Cairns free of yellow crazy ants, the largest single eradication of yellow crazy ants in the world.

Included in the eradication area were 615 residential home lots in Bentley Park, which is the greatest number of residential properties to be declared Yellow Crazy Ant-free in the one period.

Yellow Crazy Ants have been eradicated from more than 450 ha since the $6 million-per-year eradication program, jointly funded by the Albanese and Miles governments, began in 2013.

This success in eradicating the invasive pest follows more than a decade of determined action by the Wet Tropics Management Authority that started with broadscale yellow crazy ant treatments, then several years of surveys and spot treatments. 

Around 2300 ha of land across 46 separate infestations in the Wet Tropics region are currently being managed by the Authority for Yellow Crazy Ants.

Some 70 per cent of this infestation area is now under long-term monitoring, with more sites are expected to be declared eradicated soon.

Yellow Crazy Ants were discovered in Cairns in 2001 and are among the world’s 100 worst invasive species.

Once established, the ants swarm aggressively and destroy ecosystems, killing invertebrates and small animals, and if left uncontrolled, can result in major economic impacts on tourism and agricultural industries, property development, and local residents’ quality of life.

Yellow Crazy Ants are one of many threats to the unique biodiversity of the Wet Tropics and the partnership between the Australian and Queensland Governments reflects their shared commitment to protecting the World Heritage values of the Wet Tropics. 

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

“The Wet Tropics World Heritage Area is a truly unique environmental wonderland, home to the oldest continuously surviving tropical rainforest on earth and Australia’s largest diversity of animals and plants, many of which are found nowhere else in the world.

“The Albanese and Miles governments are strongly committed to protecting this precious place for our kids and grandkids.

“The Albanese Government is delivering on our promise to protect native species by tackling invasive pests like Yellow Crazy Ants. 

“Our joint funding has delivered targeted work with the sugarcane industry to reduce the risk of transporting Yellow Crazy Ants between farms through machinery movement, high tech surveillance to detect potential spread, and ant surveys using odour detection dogs.

“We have also provided $12.8 million directly to the Queensland Government to deploy into Townsville where yellow crazy ants have regrettably secured a foothold.”

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

“Queensland’s Wet Tropics are recognised internationally for its outstanding natural values.

“Today’s announcement, the eradication of Yellow Crazy Ants in an area four times the size of the previous global record, is testament to what can be achieved when governments and community work together. 

“Protecting the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area is a key objective of our government, which is why we have been funding the work of the Wet Tropics Management Authority since 2016. 

“We have an obligation to preserve this living museum of flora and fauna for future generations, for its rich First Nations cultural heritage and its contribution to a resilient tourism industry that generates millions of dollars each year for the Far North economy. 

“Left untreated, yellow crazy ants can spread quickly, devastating our native plants and animals, agriculture, and quality of life. It is up to all Queenslanders to be vigilant to combat this pest.”

Quotes attributable to Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef, Senator Nita Green:

“Declaring an area free of Yellow Crazy Ants is no easy feat. But the hard work of the Wet Tropics Management Authority, cane farmers, residents and community groups is definitely paying off. 

“It is a huge win for nature and a massive relief for those who live and work in the affected areas.

“The Authority has established strong partnerships and collaboration with numerous regional stakeholders to achieve these results.

“With considerable support from local community, industry, local businesses and First Nations peoples, I am confident the remaining areas of infestation in the region will also be eradicated.

“This is significant for our local community, and it shines a positive light on our obligations under the World Heritage Convention for protection and conservation of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, safeguarding these wonderful rainforests for future generations.”

Quotes attributable to Wet Tropics Management Authority Chair Chrissy Grant:

“The funding commitment from the Queensland Government, backed by the Federal Government, is important to stop the march of yellow crazy ants into the Wet Tropics, our backyards and our farms and we thank them for their support.

“I thank Authority staff for the many years they have contributed to the eradication efforts, in sometimes challenging conditions – most of the work takes place in rugged remote country and our efforts are paused only in times of bad weather.

“The Authority’s work and the Australian and Queensland governments’ commitments to it is testament to the value of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, home to some of the world’s oldest rainforests and the oldest continuously living cultures on the planet.”

Further information:

Cairns and surrounding areas are the traditional lands of the Gimuy Walubara Yindinji people.

Information on the Wet Tropics, the Wet Tropics Management Authority, and the Authority’s work can be found here.

The community should remain vigilant and is encouraged to report sightings of suspicious ants by calling the Wet Tropics Management Authority on 4241 0525 or via email at


Minister Plibersek’s office:

Lilly Hannock – 0417 202 513
Rachael Durrant – 0499 975 660

Minister Linard’s office:

Scott Chandler – (07) 3719 7339