The Pacific Invasives Initiative Project supports efforts to contain a new arrival of the Yellow Crazy Ant pest discovered near a Kiribati wharf.
The ants have long legs and antennae and are known to behave erratically if disturbed -hence the name.
The find on Kiritimati Island poses a serious environmental risk to bird and wildlife there, as well as on nearby islands.
The Initiative's New Zealand based co-ordinator, Bill Nagle, says they are very difficult to eradicate once they get established as queen ants form super colonies very quickly.
"We are very lucky that we've found this infestation very early. We suspect that it's quite recent and it seems, at this stage anyway, it seems to be contained to a very small area around one of the ports."