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Pests > Pests Entities > Insects > Ants, bees, wasps & sawflies > Ants > Wasmannia auropunctata, New Caledonia
January 2002. Information on a dipping treatment for litchi (lychee) as a quarantine measure against Wasmania auropunctata was requested by New Caledonioa.
For importing the fruit: The only treatment for ants is a US one of fumigation with MeBr at 32 g/m3 for 2h30 mins at 32-35C (and other rates for other temps) that is mentioned in the FAO International Plant Quarantine Treatment Manual for contamination. This would be used to treat bulk imports of mixed commodities that may have been infested with ants during storage (eg personal effects, timber, containers )and is not strictly a commodity treatment for goods such as litchi and citrus.
Wassmania would only be in the pathway if the product was stored in an area where the pests were active and this is not likely if you are importing the product from a commercial operation that would harvest the product in the field and then pack in a grading shed and store under cool conditions.
Wassmania is visible to the naked eye and so if there were concerns for it being a hitchiker then the exporting NPPO should be asked to visually inspect and certify freedom from the pest immediately before shipment. Area freedom certification might be considered if importing from Queensland, Australia, as the location of the pest is well documented at the moment and, (I believe) it is not in commercial fruit production areas.
For exporting the fruit: New Caledonia does not have Wassmania, and it is not host specific, so controls for a potential hitchiker would involve general phytosanitary conditions to be applied to the whole production system. This would require considering issues such as the distribution in the production fields, the cleanliness of the harvesting boxes/bins, the cleaning of the commodities after harvest during grading, the inspection of the commodities during packing and the security of the packed produce afterwards to ensure that you do not get re-infestation.
A ‘systems approach’ is needed that may not require a treatment at all as the various steps in the process could add up to ensure sufficient phytosanitary security for the importing country. Such a ‘system’, which could be fairly complex or fairly simple, would have to be approved by the importing country and be subject to audit by them or inspection on arrival. The steps in the process would be developed by the New Caledonia NPPO in cooperation with producers, packers and exporters. W auropunctata is now recorded in Vanuatu.
Solenopsis invicta, the Argentine fire ant is locally distributed in the Brisbane area and is under eradication, records of Wassmania auropunctata in Australia are interceptions only. Both are considered serious quarantine pests with a wide range of possible pathways for entry.