The National Biosecurity Management Group (NBMG) for Browsing Ant in the Northern Territory- comprising all Australian governments- has agreed to a revised response plan for eradicating browsing ant in the Northern Territory.
Browsing ant was first detected in the Northern Territory in June 2015 at Darwin’s seaport. Since then, 23 infested premises (IPs) have been identified. In collaboration with the Northern Australian Quarantine Strategy (NAQS), Indigenous ranger groups have undertaken remote surveillance activities.
At the end of June 2020, the National Browsing Ant Eradication Program in the Northern Territory (NBAEP NT) was on track to declare browsing ant eradicated from the Northern Territory by late 2021.
One infested premise was detected at Jabiru, Kakadu, in September 2020. The NBMG agreed it continues to be technically feasible and cost beneficial to eradicate browsing ant from Australia. The NBMG also agreed to an upper limit of $3.6 million for the NT program, which will fund response activities until November 2023.
Given the proximity of this new detection to the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, the benefit of eradication is likely to be very high relative to the indicative cost provided in the new response plan.
Browsing ants are predicted to thrive under Australian conditions and have been declared a pest of national significance. They have a proven ability to monopolise resources and rapidly increase population sizes to form a multi-queened super-colony. They eat or displace native ant species, as well as other insects, spiders, centipedes and crustaceans.
If browsing ants become established in Australia, they could have a significant impact on invertebrate diversity and associated environmental impacts as well as economic (impacts on infrastructure and agriculture) and social amenity.
Anyone who suspects that they have found an invasive ant population needs to report it to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881 as soon as possible.
Further information on the browsing ant response is available from the Northern Territory, Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade.