News & Media

DPIRD alert for African black sugar ants

Released on

Released on:
Wednesday, 3. May 2023 - 12:30

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) is asking Perth residents to be on the lookout for the invasive pest, African black sugar ant.

DPIRD technical manager John Van Schagen said residents near industrial areas were asked to be particularly vigilant, after the pest was discovered at a house in Kenwick.

“Previous infestations have been within industrialised area and businesses,” Mr Van Schagen said.

“However, a resident from Kenwick recently submitted a sample to DPIRD for testing, because they appeared unusual and were infesting the house in large numbers.”

Since 2020, African black sugar ant (Lepisiota incisa) has been found within industrial or business areas in Maddington, Welshpool, Fremantle, Wattleup, Forrestfield, Hazelmere, Maida Vale, Jandakot, Balcatta and Kenwick, along with Narrogin, 190 kilometres southeast of Perth. 

“This ant is a pest of national significance and all known infestations are under eradication,” Mr Van Schagen said.

“They appear highly suited to Australian conditions, have demonstrated a capacity to produce super-colonies and pose a significant threat to our environment, agricultural industries and human amenity.

“The ant is known to outcompete native ants and they have strong potential to establish in a wide variety of habitats, including undisturbed bush areas.

“They can also infest electrical boxes and components, causing damage to infrastructure.” 

Mr Van Schagen said African black sugar ants were ordinary-looking ants, shiny dark-brown and about 3 mm in length, with no real odour when crushed.

“We ask people to be on the lookout for high numbers of ants on their property, particularly ants that all look the same, as this species is known for displacing other ant species in areas where it establishes,” he said.

“DPIRD is working with the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and local businesses to eradicate this pest.”

Anyone who suspects they have African black sugar ants, or have large numbers of small black ants coming indoors, should report these via the MyPestGuide Reporter app or online reporting tool.

Alternatively, contact the Pest and Disease Information Service on (08) 9368 3080 or email images to

More information about African black sugar ant is available here.  

Further information about the response can also be found on the Australian Government website


Media contacts:

Megan Broad/Jodie Thomson, media liaison            +61 (0)8 9368 3937/3137