The Yellow Crazy Ant – Anoplolepis gracilipes
Origin and distribution
The Yellow crazy ant is speculated to originate From West Africa and have spread across to countries such as Papua New Guinea, South East Asia, Indian and pacific islands, Mauritius and North Queensland of Australia. They got their name by the way they behave once disturbed – Erratic.
These yellow critters do not tend to fly when they establish nests but instead use a method called ‘budding’. Budding is when a queen and some workers will walk or hitch rides on debris down rivers to establish new colonies. As the Yellow crazy ant is considered a major pest that destroys crops, it is easier to manage areas of infestation when budding occurs instead of flight, which can cover much more ground and make them difficult to control.
What they look like
The crazy YELLOW ants are.. you guessed it, yellow or more accurately – Golden brown. They have slender bodies and really long legs and there antennas exceed the length of there bodies with 11 segments.
- Worker ants have a life cycle of 76-84 days. Queens can survive for several years.
- Workers are produced throughout the year, but production fluctuates.
- Sexual offspring are born anytime throughout the year but generally 1-3 months prior to the rainy season.
Diet and habitat
- they will prey mostly on insects, but also on slow moving crabs, snails, small reptiles and birds that can’t fly out of the nest
- Ideal nesting grounds include – Tree bases, Mulch, Rock walls, pot plants, car pots, pool filters, near Agroforestry areas and farms.
They are a robust Ant species due non territorial behaviours to other Yellow Crazy Ants and will join other Crazy Ants colonies creating super colonies, this behaviour makes them difficult to eradicate as all queens in the colony must be removed to destroy the colony. They are VERY territorial to other insects and will fight when foreign insects that enter there territory.
Yellow crazy ants are considered an invasive species and they are a restricted tramp ant under the Biosecurity Act 2014 in Australia.
They affect the economy and ecosystems by..
- Decline in the spread of seeds
- Increase sooty mould on trees and plants, which affects plant growth and reduces farming yields
- Reduce nutrient recycling
- Disrupts natural species, including native birds, animals and plants
- Reduce unique red crab population on Christmas Island – Australia
- Protects sap-sucking insects such as scale and mealy bugs