Despite the challenges of COVID-19, 2020 saw good progress in the war on Australia’s fire ant invasion with the continued roll-out of the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program (the Program) throughout South East Queensland.
Since the commencement of eradication treatment in September 2020 in the greater Ipswich and western Logan regions, some sections of the Lockyer Valley, the Somerset Region and the Scenic Rim, 26580ha have been checked for fire ants and 143,266ha have been treated with bait.
Over the Christmas period, Biosecurity Queensland responded to 362 public reports of fire ants.
As previously reported (see previous story: 28 May 2020), fire ants are a category 1 restricted matter under the Biosecurity Act 2014 and as such the Program is deemed an essential service during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Biosecurity Queensland, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has taken precautions per Queensland Health directions to keep everyone involved healthy and safe.
Success through combined effort
While acknowledging the efforts of staff involved in the Program, progress achieved to date would not have been possible without community and industry support.
“It’s pleasing that the message that biosecurity is everybody’s responsibility is more widely accepted,” says Wildlife Queensland Policies & Campaigns Manager Des Boyland.
“An example of industry collaboration is the effort by 18 cane farmers from Canegrowers Rocky Point treating their farms in the Coomera area in June-September 2020, which resulted in the number of active fire ant nests being reduced from 47 down to 9.
“Such a decrease certainly reduces the risk of heavier infestations and further spread.”
Wildlife Queensland understands that further cooperation with various industry groups will be rolled out. Compliance audits will soon commence ensuring practical knowledge around fire ant risk mitigation and legislative obligations are known.
Whilst some battles have been won, the war still has a way to go. Ongoing community and industry group cooperation and collaboration are essential if this invasive introduced pest is to be eliminated.
“We encourage everyone to be on the lookout for fire ants and report any sightings. The only way we can win the war is by working together with Biosecurity staff,” says Boyland.
Report fire ant sightings
Now is the best time to spot fire ant nests as after rain they will build their nests on higher ground. However, fire ants thrive in humid weather and can exploit wet conditions to relocate their nests by rafting on floodwaters and overground flows.
Please report sightings:
- via the Program online portal
- or call Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.
Program treatment teams respond as quickly as possible to reports.
For help identifying fire ants watch this informative Queensland Government fire ant video.