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Baiting program to eliminate ants underway at Kenting National Park

2017/11/16 23:16:19

Photo courtesy of Lin Tzung-chi

Taipei, Nov. 16 (CNA) The management office at Kenting National Park is carrying out a large-scale baiting program for yellow crazy ants in order to reduce the negative impact these ants have on the crab population in the area.

According to locally renowned biologist Lin Tzung-chi (林宗岐), who spoke with reporters on Thursday, a team of scientists has been working with the management office of the national park to address the decline of the local crab population caused by the species of ants Anoplolepis gracilipes, commonly called yellow crazy ants.

It was discovered in 2015 that these ants, one of the worst invasive species in the world, were attacking the crabs in Kenting, spitting out ant venom that blinds the crabs, thereby rendering them unable to forage for food.

The crabs then slowly starve to death.

Given the adverse impact these ants can have on the ecosystem, Lin and a colleague, Liu Hung-chang (劉烘昌), were entrusted by the Kenting National Park to eliminate them.

The ants now take up 30 percent of the area on Banana Bay and 40 percent of the area across the bay.

Starting with Banana Bay, Lin's team has set up 100 bait stations of ant bait that is made up of table sugar mixed with boric acid, which is commonly used to kill ants and other pests.

If the stations are effective, officials at the Kenting National Park said, the project will be expanded to other areas in the park next year.

Kenting National Park is not the first tourist attraction in the world to have reported a problem with these ants.

The ants have long occupied Australia's Christmas Island and have posed a severe threat to the red crabs inhabiting the area in recent years.

According scientific studies, they have displaced an estimated 15-20 million crabs from their burrows and have essentially depleted Christmas Island's population of red crabs.

Lin noted that the ants do not bite or sting, but their venom can cause an allergic reaction amongst certain people.

(By Kuo Chih-hsuan and Kuan-lin Liu)