Biosecurity and Trade

Biosecurity is a strategic and integrated approach to analyzing and managing relevant risks to human, animal and plant life and health and associated risks to the environment. Interest in biosecurity has risen considerably over the last decade in parallel with increasing trade in food, plant and animal products, more international travel, new outbreaks of transboundary disease affecting animals, plants and people, heightened awareness of biological diversity and greater attention to the environment and the impact of agriculture on environmental sustainability.

Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTSs) need to position themselves to take advantage of trading opportunities, while protecting their natural resource base from potential risks.
Nauru receives support for survey on Yellow Crazy Ants
Tuesday, 25 March 2014 14:38

Nauru has a very fragile ecosystem with very few insects, land snails and nesting seabirds. In June 2013, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme in collaboration with Nauru, and engaged Dr. Eric Edwards to investigate and describe the land and marine biota and recommend appropriate conservation actions to conduct a Rapid Biodiversity Survey (BIORAP).

A total of 17 ant species were found on the island during this survey, which was led by the Department of Conservation’s Dr. Eric Edwards. Among these ant species were some that are commonly known to have significant potential effect on the environment, human habitation, and also agricultural crops as they may farm agricultural pests such as scales and mealy bugs. One of the undesirable ant species found on Nauru was the yellow crazy ant (YCA). YCA is an invasive species that continues to spread, affecting many islands of the Pacific. These ants are known to have adverse impact on fragile wildlife, pets and ecosystems. How and when the pest got into Nauru is not known, but the first place colonies of YCA were seen was near Aiwo Wharf.

The report by Dr. Edwards strongly recommended that a follow-up survey be carried out urgently to demarcate how far this particular ant had spread on the island.

In response to this recommendation, the government of Nauru sought technical support from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Land Resources Division to carry out a delimiting survey and assist with containing and/or eradicating the ant species.

In February 2014 SPC Entomologist Maclean Vaqalo carried out the delimiting survey for YCA (Anoplolepis gracilepes). The survey adopted two methods. The first was visual inspections, which were carried out at high risk areas such as shipping container yards, rubbish dump sites, restaurants and hotels. The second method was the use of grid-based installation of pottle traps using protein (sausage and peanut paste mixed with soyabean oil). These were placed at the edges of buffer zones where YCA workers were not located during the visual inspection.

Results from the delimiting survey confirmed that YCA was infesting about 7 hectares of land area covering Aiwo wharf and stretching northward into a residential area that known as Location Block Area.

SPC further provided technical support to the Nauru National Plant Protection Office in facilitating cabinet approval of the use of Biforce ant bait granules (active ingredient: bifenthrin) through the Permanent Secretary of Justice and Border Security.

A 15 kg supply of biforce ant bait granules, which was available on the island during the visit, was applied to some hotspot areas at the Aiwo wharf area at the application rate of 60 g/ha. This amount was not enough to effectively cover the entire infested area, but it provided an opportunity to demonstrate to Nauru Quarantine officers how and where to apply the ant bait granules on infested areas. Further applications of ant bait insecticide are expected in the future as part of the effort to eradicate YCA.

For further information, please contact SPC Entomologist, Mr. Maclean Vagalo on email address This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or the LRD Helpdesk.