Ways to help prevent invasive ants

You can help prevent invasive ants arriving and spreading in many ways  ... encourage citizen science ... encourage passive surveillance ... share awareness of the problems invasive ants cause ... encourage biosecurity ... become an invasive species battler

Encourage citizen scientists

A citizen scientist is a person who voluntarily gives time, effort, and resources toward scientific research. They usually work with professional scientists. Citizen science can be used to help understand distributions of invasive species.

For example, in response to an incursion of fire ants, the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries asked the local community to participate in a Yard Check Report to establish the limits of the ant's  distribution. To help with identification they produced a fire ant identification video  and fire ant identification webpage.

The Hawai'i Department of Agriculture got the community to help look for little fire ants.

The Department asked “citizen scientists” (teachers, scout leaders, and other club or community group leaders) to help by creating a PowerPoint presentation (download 8 MB) activity guide.

The guide shows how to check for the presence of little fire ants, who to send samples to for identification and gave advice on what to do next.

This simple strategy resulted in a better understanding of the distribution and spread of little fire ants enabling more efficient management of the pest.

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(© Hawai'i Department of Agriculture)

Encourage passive surveillance

Passive surveillance involves getting the people to tell environment officers of any new (invasive) species they see. Such surveillance needs an awareness campaign to inform the public about the threat. 

Campaigns encouraging passive surveillance can include media such as posters, radio slots, videos, fact sheets, presentations, leaflets.

Whichever media are chosen the key messages are:

  • What the ant is called
  • A photo and description of its size and colour
  • Why it is a problem
  • Where it has come from
  • Where you might find it and where it nests
  • What people can do to avoid spreading the ant
  • Who to call if an unusual ant is seen

We have created a set of templates so you can easily build your own awareness posters, leaflets, fact sheets and presentations using PIAT resources.

Radio is an inexpensive way to get a large amount of information to a broad group of people. This Hawaiian broadcaster was able to share all this information in a little over one minute.

Detecting little fire ants

This three-minute long video provides step-by-step, easily understood instructions, on the simple procedure for testing for little fire ants.

The “How to Test for LFA” video was produced by DLNR in cooperation with DOA and other agencies that are jointly addressing the problems little fire ants cause in Hawai'i.

The method relies on the little fire ants love of peanut butter.

Domingo Cravalho of US Fish and Wildlife shows how to survey for little fire ants (© Hawai'i Departments of Agriculture (DOA) and Land & Natural Resources (DLNR))

Share awareness of the problems invasive ants cause

The first step is to increase your own and your community's awareness of invasive ants and the threats they pose. By reporting any unwelcome new arrivals you might see, people can help to eradicate them before they become a bigger problem and reduce the likelihood of accidental introductions or spreading or becoming established. 

Videos can bring home the message of the effects of invasive species really well. We have selected a few for you on the PIAT Youtube channel.

You can use the resources in the PIAT to build posters or presentations.

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Encourage biosecurity

Biosecurity is everyone's responsibility.

Invasive ants are mostly spread by people, but people are not always aware of what they are spreading, why they are a problem or what they can do to prevent it.

Become an invasive species battler

SPREP sponsors and co-ordinates the Pacific Invasives Learning Network (PILN).

The PILN mission is to empower effective invasive species management through a participant-driven network that meets priority needs, rapidly shares skills and resources, provides links to technical expertise, increases information exchange, and accelerates on-the-ground action

PILN teams work together in-country to deal with invasive species. Sometimes the team is the national invasive species committee or a sub-group of a national committee. These teams are multi-ageny and multi-sector and are usually led by one or two government agencies, with support from the others. The structure of PILN Teams is dependent on how it best operates at the local level and some may have chairs, others a coordinator or both.

For more information contact your local local PILN representative (below) or contact Dave Moverley at SPREP.

American Samoa | Tavita Togia
Chuuk | Kantito Kanas
Cook Islands | Elizabeth Munro (682) 21-256
Fiji | Eleni Tikoduadua (685) 331-1699
French Polynesia | Marie Fourdrigez (689) 746-872
Guam | Plant Inspection Facility hotline 475-PEST (475-7378)
Hawaii | Joshua Atwood (1-808) 587-4154
Kiribati | Ratita Bebe (686) 28-507
Kosrae | Leonard Sigrah | Jason Jack 
Marshall Islands | Henry Capelle (692) 455-4920
Micronesia (National) | John Wicchep 
Nauru | Elkoga Gadabu
New Caledonia | Patrick Barriere (687) 753-078
  Niue | Huggard Tongatule
Northern Mariana Islands | Manny Pangelinan (670) 483-6261
Palau | Dr Joel Miles (680) 778-8407
Papua New Guinea | Warea Orapa
Pohnpei | i-STOP | Konrad Englberger | Adelino Lorens
Samoa | SNITT | Taupau Maturo Paniani | Lesasaea Niualuga Evaimalo
Solomon Islands | Agnetha Vavekaramui  
Tonga | Viliami Hakaumotu | Atelaite Lupe Matoto (676) 25-050
Tuvalu | Mataio Tekinene
Vanuatu | Lily Fatdal | Sylverio Bule (678) 23-519
Wallis & Futuna | Atoloto Malau (681) 720-597
Yap | Tamadad Sulog