Queenslanders spending more time at home urged to treat fire ants in their backyard

With more people spending time in their homes each day, residents in South East Queensland are urged to order bait online and treat fire ants in their backyard to avoid additional health risks to their family.

National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program’s Steering Committee Chair, Dr Wendy Craik said she was concerned that families, and especially children, will spend more time in their gardens now, exposing them to greater risk of fire ants stings.

“Fire ants swarm and collectively inflict a painful sting and in rare cases this can result in a severe acute allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening,” said Dr Craik.

“Some victims can require hospitalisation — this is the last thing our community needs, and is the last thing our hospitals and health services need at the moment.

“The program is continuing its eradication treatment as planned — unless instructed otherwise by the Federal or Queensland Governments.

“This critical work in eradication areas of Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim and parts of Ipswich shows promising results as we near the end of the final treatment season in that area.

“In other areas not yet subject to eradication treatment, residents are urged to purchase fire ant bait online from local retailers now, in case of future shutdowns, and follow the instructions on the bait label.

“Off the shelf treatments can help suppress fire ant populations and prevent them taking over your yard,” said Dr Craik.

“Or you can engage a licensed pest manager to conduct the treatment for you, as many now have been trained by the program to treat fire ants.

“If residents cannot treat fire ants themselves, call the program and we will come and treat as soon as possible.

The program’s field teams have the health of the public and themselves in mind and are observing the new social distancing and hygiene rules when they treat properties.

“If our officers need to speak with the resident they will knock on the door and then step back 1.5 metres,” she said.

“We’ve also put in place a range of other workplace health and safety measures, including restricting face-to-face meetings and issuing strict guidance about not coming to work if sick.

“Additional vehicles have been hired so that we can reduce the number of workers travelling to treatment sites together.

“These measures are not just important to protect the health and safety of our staff, but the community of South East Queensland as well,” said Dr Craik.

By taking these measures, Dr Craik said she was confident the program could keep its field teams in work and maintain the fight against this super pest that is a risk to health and the Australian way of life.

For information on what baits are available on the market, how to use them, or how to identify and report fire ants visit daf.qld.gov.au/fireants or call 13 25 23.