Browsing ants

Page last updated: Wednesday, 23 October 2019 - 5:24pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Browsing ant, Lepisiota frauenfeldi, is an invasive, exotic ant that will thrive under Australian conditions and has been declared a pest of national significance.

Browsing ants have a proven ability to monopolise resources and rapidly increase population sizes to form super-colonies.  If established, they could have a significant impact on invertebrate diversity, the environment and our social amenity. 

This species is a homopteran-tending species which ‘farm’ pests such as aphids, mealy bugs and scale insects, and so would also become a significant horticultural and garden pest. Browsing ants are not harmful to people or pets.

The first known Australian detection was at Perth Airport in 2013 followed by subsequent detections at commercial properties in Belmont, Kewdale and Welshpool. Browsing ant has since been detected at the Port of Darwin and the Port of Brisbane.

The Perth, Darwin and Brisbane browsing ant detections are now subject to nationally funded eradication programs, funded by Commonwealth and State and Territory governments.

What do I look for?

Browsing ant is an exotic tramp ant native to southern Europe, usually found in desert or Mediterranean regions in the vicinity of the sea.

Browsing ants are a slender ant, and shiny uniform dark brown in colour. They are 3–4mm in length with long antennae and long legs, and run about in a crazy or haphazard manner when disturbed. They do not have a strong 'ant smell' when crushed.

scale diagram of a browsing ant
Browsing ants are 3–4mm in length with long antennae and long legs

What do I do if I find it?

If you suspect you have browsing ants on your property or workplace and would like to submit a sample, you can collect some in a jar or stick some to a piece of paper with clear adhesive tape. Make sure your collection details are attached to your sample.

Samples can be submitted to the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development in person during office hours at - 3 Baron-Hay Court, South Perth.

Samples can also be posted to: Pest and Disease Information Service (PaDIS), DPIRD Locked Bag 4, Bentley DC 6983.

Alternatively you can report browsing ant via:

Report your observations via the MyPestGuide Reporter app or online at mypestguide.agric.wa.gov.au, or via the Pest and Disease Information Service 08 9368 3080 or padis@dpird.wa.gov.au

Contact information

Marc Widmer
+61 (0)8 9368 3062