New hit list for fire ant treatment this season

Communities most at risk of fire ants are on the hit list for the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program’s next treatment season.

Program General Manager Graeme Dudgeon said the ground temperature was increasing, and the ants were starting to come out of winter hibernation to forage for food.

“This means it is a good time to start baiting the pest again,” said Mr Dudgeon.

“From now until approximately June 2020, ground and aerial crews will be spreading fire ant bait across areas of the Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim, Ipswich, Logan and the Gold Coast.

“This treatment season is particularly important for South East Queensland and the rest of Australia.

“By the end of this treatment season we will see further evidence that our strategy to work from the west of the infestation is succeeding.

“Initial reports are very positive, with residents in parts of the Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim and the Ipswich City local government areas telling us — “there used to be ants, now there are none”.

“Over the course of the 10-year program resources are focused on eradication strategies, working from the western boundary of the infestation area to the east.

“Containment strategies are also in place, with suppression of fire ants undertaken within our operational boundaries to minimise spread until eradication actions are applied.

“This season, we’re aiming to complete eradication treatment in the west while controlling ant populations in heavily infested areas, including suburbs of western Ipswich, Logan and northern Gold Coast.

“Residents with fire ants can also choose the new self-management option, by engaging a pest manager to treat their property.”

Fire ant bait is made up of corn grit soaked in soybean oil and an insect growth regulator — the active ingredients are widely used in mosquito control programs and in dog and cat flea collars.

“The bait is not harmful to humans, plants or animals,” said Mr Dudgeon.

“As part of the treatment program, program officers will be entering properties to disperse fire ant bait over lawns, garden beds, paddocks and open areas.

“If officers are in your neighbourhood, please allow them to access your property to conduct treatment. They are easily identified by their uniform and identification cards.”

Fire ants are a 'super pest' — aggressive, highly-adaptive and well-equipped for survival. Despite this, Australia has succeeded in eradication efforts where other countries have not.

“Since the program began, Australia has eradicated five separate incursions of fire ants, including a population spread over 8,000 hectares at the Port of Brisbane. This is the largest eradication of any ant species in the world,” said Mr Dudgeon.

Contact: National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program

Mobile: 0459 855 046