Nature conservation

Threatened species

Invasion of the Yellow Crazy Ant, Anoplolepis gracilipes (Fr. Smith) into NSW - profile

Scientific name: Invasion of the Yellow Crazy Ant, Anoplolepis gracilipes (Fr. Smith) into NSW
Conservation status in NSW: Key Threatening Process
Commonwealth status: Not listed
Gazetted date: 19 Aug 2005
Profile last updated: 19 Aug 2017


Invasion of the Yellow Crazy Ant Anoplolepis gracilipes (Fr. Smith) into NSW was listed as a KEY THREATENING PROCESS on Schedule 3 of the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 [19 August 2005].

Crazy ants, Anoplolepis gracilipes, are notable for their frenetic activity when disturbed.

Crazy ants have spread across 2500 km2 in the Northern Territory following human-assisted introduction into east Arnhemland (Young et al. 2001). Crazy ants have been intercepted in Australian ports at least 161 times since 1988 (Pest and Diseases Information Database, DAFF). Approximately 40% of interceptions have been in NSW ports.

Of greatest concern to NSW is an incursion of crazy ants at Goodwood Island on the Clarence River near Yamba, NSW.   Crazy ants were first detected at Goodwood Island in 2004 and an eradication program put in place immediately.

Modelling of the potential distribution using climate matching, suggests that crazy ants are capable of inhabiting most of northern and north-eastern Australia, from the Kimberley through Darwin, Cape York Peninsula, and down the eastern seaboard of Queensland into coastal and inland parts of northern NSW (Merrin and O'Dowd 2004).

Crazy ants are listed among the worlds 100 worst invaders by the Invasive Species Specialist Group of the IUCN (ISSG 2994).  Crazy ants have the potential to displace native fauna (Gerlach 2004, O'Dowd et al. 2003, Lester and Tavite 2004) and to kill invertebrates, reptiles, hatchling birds and small mammals. Species and populations in NSW that may become threatened by the presence the crazy ants include ants such as Rhytidoponera spp., Pheidole spp., Paratrechina spp., Eastern Sedgefrog Litoria fallax, Eastern Grass Skink Lampropholis delicata, and a burrowing skink Ophioscincus truncates (Natrass and Vanderwoude 2001). A range of other ground-dwelling invertebrates and vertebrates may be affected in NSW.

Loss of biodiversity and ecosystem integrity following invasion by the Yellow Crazy Ant (Anoplolepis gracilipes) on Christmas Island, Indian Ocean is listed as a key threatening process under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.  A national threat abatement plan is being prepared by the Department of Environment and Heritage.


Recovery strategies

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