White-footed ant on the march in the region
An army of white-footed ant invaders armed with a sweet tooth and a penchant for the indoors could be more widespread in Southland than previously thought, Environment Southland says.
The white-footed house ant, which generally has a strong hold in only northern climes, have recently been sighted in Riverton around the Taramea Bay Road area.
Previously they were known to be present in only a small pocket in Gladstone, where they became established in 2009.
Environment Southland biosecurity officer Paula Hatton said the foreign ant pests were of concern to Environment Southland because, once established, they were difficult to control as they did not tend to take bait to their nests.
The ants crawled through small gaps in houses and often nested in walls as they scoured for food and water - particularly sweet items, she said.
They were distinguishable from other ants by their tendency to forage in long lines rather than the scattered nature more common to their native ant counterparts.
They also have black bodies and pale legs, hence the name, but that was difficult to detect without the aid of a microscope, she said.
Environment Southland wanted to gauge how widespread the pest had become. If people suspected they had the unwelcome ant in their home they were encouraged to provide a sample in a lidded container to Environment Southland, where it could be identified.
The insects found in Riverton have been sent to landcare research where they will be formally identified.
The Southland Times