A new incursion of fire ants has been detected near the Brisbane airport. This is a new arrival of fire ants to Australia and genetic testing indicates that the ants originated from the Southern United States and are not related to current or previous fire ants populations in Queensland.
It’s likely the new fire ants arrived in freight sometime in the last two years, and thanks to a vigilant person who reported them to Biosecurity Queensland in September last year, it is believed they’ve not had time to spread far. The success of the Fire Ant Program in Gladstone and the Port of Brisbane has shown that this terrible invasive pest can be eradicated, and the key is to act quickly.
According to Biosecurity Queensland, the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program could not have achieved its success to date without the ongoing awareness and vigilance from local communities. Seventy per cent of fire ant sightings in south-east Queensland are reported by the general public. We urge you to check your yard, local parks and recreational areas for fire ants.
Although small, fire ants are one of the worst invasive species to hit Australia’s shores. Fire ants can ruin our lifestyle, and have serious environmental and agricultural impacts. They inflict a terribly painful sting and can restrict everyday activities, such as barbeques, picnics and sporting events.
Join the ant hunt and check the top five spots for fire ants. On residential properties: lawns, footpaths, garden beds, outside taps and sprinklers and electricity and water meter pits. On rural properties: dams and irrigation lines, edges of cultivated land, cropland post-harvest, fence lines and piles of organic matter.
A typical fire ant nest looks like a mound of loose dirt, with no visible entry or exit holes. Nests can also be found under logs, rocks or gardening materials.
Fire ants are small, varying in size between 2-6mm and are coppery-brown with a dark abdomen. They are aggressive and inflict a painful sting which can be life threatening.
Take a look around your property and if you see a mound of dirt that could be a fire ants nest, stand well back and poke the nest with a long stick. Never use your hand. If it’s a fire ant nest you’ll notice ants of varying sizes swarming out to attack. It’s important that you don’t attempt to disturb or destroy the ant nest yourself because if it’s not done correctly the worker ants will simply evacuate their queen to a safe new location and start a new nest.
If you think you’ve spotted fire ants, take a photo if possible and upload it to the Biosecurity Queensland website www.anthunt.daf.qld.gov.au, or call 13 25 23.
Qualified Biosecurity Queensland technical officers will come and treat the ants using a combination of bait treatment and direct nest injection. The bait comprises corn grit that is soaked in soybean oil and insect growth regulator that sterilises the queen ant. The worker ants then can’t reproduce and they die out. The insecticide has low toxicity and poses no negative health effects for humans or animals.
The new biosecurity laws start on 1 July 2016. Everyone will have responsibility for biosecurity risks under their control. Learn what the new laws will mean for you and get more information by visiting www.daf.qld.gov.au/fireants.