What Are Fire Ants?

Fire ants are dangerous, imported pests that could spread to large areas of Australia. Fire ants could severely damage the environment, our outdoor lifestyle, and the agriculture and tourism industries. They inflict a painful, fiery sting, which can, in rare cases, cause a severe acute allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).

pain

Fire Ants can inflict painful stings that can lead to anaphylactic shock and death.

drought

Fire Ants can destroy crops and reduce yield by up to 60%.

cricket

Fire Ants can cause the cancellation of sporting and community events and make backyards and parks unusable.

koala

Fire Ants can displace and kill some of Australia’s unique native species.

Fire Ants can even blind and kill pets and other animals.

Important Information

The National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program has made significant progress in eradicating fire ants from Australia. Surveillance is ongoing, and treatment and containment measures are continuing in areas of South East Queensland where the ants have been detected. It is essential that you remain vigilant and report any suspected sightings to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23. The guide below will help you identify and effectively treat fire ants.

Fire Ants Treatment & Prevention

Fire ants

Fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) are quite small (2-6mm) and come in an unusual variety of sizes within one nest. Their heads and bodies are coppery-brown and their abdomens are darker. They are aggressive, particularly near the nest, and can inflict painful stings.

fire ant
Fire ant nests

fire ant nestfire ant nest

Fire ant nests have no obvious entry or exit holes.Nests often appear as dome-shaped mounds, but these mounds are not always easily identifiable. They can be up to 40cm high, but may also be flat and look like a small patch of disturbed soil.

They are usually found in open areas such as lawns and pastures, and along roadsides and unused cropland. Nests can also be found next to or under other objects on the ground, such as timber, logs, rocks, pavers or bricks. Look near pots or any areas of disturbed ground as well as:

  • in pot plants on the ground
  • in stores of topsoil, mulch and potting mixes
  • under landscape materials (e.g. logs, stones)
  • under timber or pallets on the ground
  • adjacent to buildings and other structures
  • in untidy or overgrown areas
  • near areas of permanent water (e.g. the banks of dams, rivers, ponds, aquaculture containers)
  • tufts of grass in open areas, where the soil is built up around the tufts.

Inspect For Fire Ants

Where you will inspect for fire ants will depend on the area you are inspecting. For inspections in residential areas focus your inspection on:
  • Lawns
  • Footpaths
  • Garden beds
  • Taps
  • Utility Pits.
In rural areas, be sure to check:
  • Dams
  • Edges of cultivated land
  • Crop land post-harvest
  • Fence lines
  • Piles of organic matter.
For a commercial or development site concentrate your inspections around areas including:
  • Anywhere fire ant carriers are stored
  • Machinery used with fire ant carriers and where that machinery is stored
  • The perimeter of the site area
  • Anywhere waste material is stored
  • Areas around buildings, gardens and lawns.
Fire ant carriers include Soil (fill, clay, scrapings, and any material removed from the ground at a site where earthworks are being carried out.), Mulch, Animal manures, Baled hay or straw, Potted Plants and Turf.

 

Treatment

Fire ant nest treatment involves either broadcast baiting, a direct nest injection or both. Direct Nest Injections for the control of fire ants may only be conducted by a licensed Pest Controller.

To control fire ants by broadcast baiting, the areas is treated by spreading bait out in the immediate vicinity of the nest at a rate of 20-40gm per 100m2.

Baiting Tips:

  • Ensure that baited area is not disturbed for at least 7 days
  • Do not water baited areas for at least 24 hours and if possible up to 48 hours
  • Bait in the early morning or later afternoon when temperatures are not too high, fire ants will not forage if it is too hot.



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