Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program marches on

28 May 2020


Red fire ants

Red fire ants on a coin. Image © Biosecurity Queensland

The Queensland Government’s Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program (the program) is continuing throughout South East Queensland. 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.

Treatment includes planned eradication and suppression in identified areas as part of the program’s 10-year Eradication Plan and in other areas where members of the community report the presence of fire ants.

COVID-19 health and safety measures

The health and safety of the community and staff are paramount when treating properties. Additional measures have been put in place in recent weeks to ensure the important task of treating fire ants continues. These include:

  • social distancing
  • calling ahead
  • the supply of essential health protection equipment.

Fire ants are aggressive, highly-adaptive and well-equipped for survival. Ongoing treatment is vital otherwise the gains achieved to date will be lost and fire ants will continue to be a threat to our health, lifestyle and environment and economy.

Impact of recent weather events on fire ants

Recent rainfall events in South East Queensland have not hindered fire ants, in fact, they thrive in wet and humid conditions. They dig deeper underground and just wait the weather out. Some fly to another location — up to 5 km away — while others may build rafts by linking their bodies together en-masse and floating to safety. They can float for weeks until they settle on dry land or a place where they can start a nest again.

However, one advantage of the rain is the fire ants build their nests on higher ground and so are more visible.

Report suspect fire ant sightings

Wildlife Queensland welcomes the news that the program is progressing and achieving its set targets. However, for the program to be truly effective, it is essential that community members report all sightings of fire ants.

If you are aware of (or suspect) fire ants and/or fire ant nests, you are legally obliged under the Biosecurity Act 2014 to report their presence within 24 hours of detection.

Please report suspect sightings:

  • via the program’s online portal
  • or call Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

The program’s treatment teams respond as quickly as possible to reports.

If you cannot or do not want to wait for the program’s staff to treat, you may engage qualified pest controllers to treat the nests at your cost or undertake the treatment yourself per the program’s directions. Please note: If treating fire ants yourself, you are still legally obliged under the Biosecurity Act 2014 to report their presence.

More information

For help identifying fire ants, watch this informative Queensland Government fire ant video.

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