The exotic ants seized by the Biosecurity officers

Deadly Exotic Ants Listed Online Seized From Canberra Home

Seven species of potentially deadly exotic ants were seized by Biosecurity officers last month after they were listed on Gumtree, a classifieds website.

The Department of Agriculture knew about the listing from a member of the public who notified them about the sale right away.

The officials confiscated the non-native insects from a home in Canberra where they were kept.

All of the exotic ant species place native wildlife at risk, with at least one of them being the cause of several anaphylaxis cases outside the country.

Exotic ants are dangerous and hard to eradicate, Nico Padovan, Department of Agriculture’s head of biosecurity operations, warned.

“While they may seem small and harmless, exotic ants can pose a huge risk to our environment and way of life, and represent a significant biosecurity risk to Australia”, he said.

“They are predators and foragers, with single queen [ants] possessing vast reproductive capacities, making them difficult to eradicate if established”, Padovan continued.

The Bi-coloured Arboreal ant (scientific name: Tetraponera rufonigra) was one of the species that were seized.

The ant, which is native to Asia, has been one of three species known to have caused severe anaphylactic reactions in Thailand.

Apart from the insects, a reproductive colony was taken from the home and, after the seizure, was treated by the ACT Parks and Conservation for biosecurity risks.

The removal of invasive ants is expensive. The federal government has spent more than $150 million to address the issue in recent years.

Padovan said that he and his team are continuously on the lookout for online sales of exotic ant species and other imported animals.

“When it comes to biosecurity and protecting Australia, we are unashamedly antsy”, he said.

Duncan, S. (2017, July 9). Biosecurity officials seize deadly ants advertised Gumtree | Daily Mail Online.