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The Argentine Ant (1956)


A documentary made by the CSIRO Film Unit which details the features of the Argentine ant – a domestic and agricultural pest – including how to identify them, their social structure and behavioural characteristics, and systematic spraying methods for their eradication. The film incorporates the use of maps, illustrative drawings and animated sequences.

Curator’s notes

The Argentine Ant was made as part of a larger cooperative campaign to eradicate the pest in suburban areas of New South Wales (see also Argentine Ants Advertisement, 1968). The ants were first discovered in Australia in 1939 in Victoria and slowly spread to other states, reaching New South Wales in 1950. The film emphasises the ants being a domestic or household pest, but also touches on their potentially destructive impact on the agricultural sector.

The film was produced by the CSIRO Film Unit after a successful spraying campaign in Lidcombe in Sydney; techniques shown in the film demonstrate the methods used there. According to surviving CSIRO documentation, the identified audience for the film was local councils, health authorities, entomologists as well as spray gangs undergoing training.

The film’s main purpose therefore was as both a training and planning tool, but it also functions as an effective public awareness campaign for a general audience. The voice-over narration appeals to individuals to ‘report promptly any appearance of the Argentine ant to his local agricultural or municipal authority’.

In addition to holding 16mm film components for The Argentine Ant in its collection, the National Film and Sound Archive also holds a range of associated documentation including scripts, a treatment and handwritten notes.