TRAMP ANTS AND THE ENVIRONMENT

What is a “tramp ant” and why are they potentially an environmental issue?

With so many species of ants in Australia, it is important to know a little bit about each species and the impact that they can have on your lifestyle as well as the environment. The issue with many species of ant in Australia, is that they are introduced species, meaning they are not meant to live in this country and therefore, potentially very damaging to our ecosystem.

brown ant climbing on a leaf

Over time, with overseas trading becoming more and more common, many species of animals arrive on our shores that are not meant to be here. Strict controls are in place to limit this happening but there is always a risk of a foreign species making it through. With over 15,000 species of ants in the world, it is very difficult to be vigilant enough to keep them out of Australia. Such is the case with tramp ants, specifically 6 species of them, that are considered hazardous to our biodiversity. Of those 6, there are 2 species that of concern here in WA and most pest control companies in Perth should be familiar with them. They are the African big-headed ant or coastal brown ant (Pheidole megacephala) and the Argentine ant (Linepithema humile).

Ants are one of the most successful animal groups due to their ability to reproduce quickly and adapt to their environment. With breeding conditions in WA near perfect for ants, these 2 species arrived here and colonised very quickly. They are quite an aggressive species and they are able to take over a food source very easily. They can build nests in the environment they find (so under logs, rocks and debris) or they will take up residence under things like pavers in your yard. If you have pavers and they are “sinking”, chances are, you have a tramp ant colony to blame. Sometimes they can build “super colonies” that have more than one queen ant and these larger colonies can wreak havoc on an existing ecosystem. Due to their ability to fill more than one role (predators, herbivores, seed eaters, seed disperses and scavengers) they can shape the very structure of an ecosystem.

Tramp ants will eat just about anything. They can prey on leaf litter and canopy fauna, from small invertebrates (centipedes, worms, molluscs, spiders and insects) to crabs, birds, frogs, mammals and reptiles. You can help minimise the likelihood of an ant infestation by keeping your yard as free of unnecessary debris as possible and keeping your food storage and preparation areas clean.

If tramp ants are allowed to colonise, they can have a heavy impact on the environment. With the taking over of food sources, smaller species can be wiped out entirely. These tiny invaders can also affect industries, homes and even your health. Agricultural impacts include damage to crops and equipment and increases in crop pests and diseases. Tramp ants can infest furniture, food and electrical equipment, and subsequently, chew through your wiring. Your garden or local park could be left unusable due to a tramp ant infestation.

Because of their prolific breeding habits and their potential impact on your home and the environment, it is always wise to keep a look out for signs of tramp ants and obviously, dealing with them sooner rather than later is the recommendation of every pest control company in Perth.

If you think you may have a tramp ant problem in your home or business, then please give us a call.