Crazy Ants Take Over Christmas Island
Australian Parks are trying to save the keystone species on Christmas Island. Red crabs, which provide food for many other species, have been severely reduced due to hordes of crazy ants. This ant species has run amok without a natural, indigenous predator to keep it in check, and been the culprit in killing tens of millions of red crabs within the last two decades.
The Malaysian wasp is a diminutive creature barely 2mm in length, but eats the insect that is the main food source for crazy ants. Australian officials are working with researchers at LaTrobe University to introduce the wasps onto the island, pending government approval.
Prior efforts to contain explosions in population of non-native species haven’t always gone well in Australia, so the decision to introduce the wasp has required years of study. The disastrous introduction of the cane toad, imported to help control the cane beetle, has led to a prodigious number of toads who continue to destroy native species across much of the continent.
To help the red crab, scientists and park officials have used periodic baiting with fipronil in order to kill large numbers of ants, but this method is extremely costly and labor intensive.
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