Fire ant program activities underway at the Gold Coast

News release | 23-Jul-2018

Biosecurity Queensland is conducting surveillance and community engagement activities in northern Gold Coast suburbs after recent detections of fire ants.

Biosecurity Queensland is conducting surveillance and community engagement activities in northern Gold Coast suburbs after recent detections of fire ants.

Biosecurity Queensland’s National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program General Manager John Jordan said ground crews and detection dogs were in the area to check sites that could attract and sustain the ants.

"Fire ants were identified at Hope Island, Labrador and Helensvale last month," Mr Jordan said.

"The detections at Hope Island and Labrador were as a result of reports from the same local landscaper.

"At Hope Island, there are a significant number of nests on land that is currently under development. In Labrador, a single nest was found alongside a footpath.

"Our teams have been checking the surrounding areas to determine if there are any more nests, and subsequently found further nests at two sites in Helensvale."

Mr Jordan said Program pest controllers were destroying all the nests, and at the same time genetic analysis was being used to confirm their links to other known infestations.

"As well as our own surveillance efforts, we rely heavily on the community and industry to be our eyes on the ground and to advise of any suspicious ants immediately," he said.

"Prompt reporting of suspect fire ants is crucial so we can treat them and reduce the risk of the ants spreading any further.

"Residents and business operators in Hope Island, Labrador and adjacent areas are encouraged to check their properties for fire ants and report any suspect sightings to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

"The surveillance activity is expected to initially take around a month, but this will depend on whether we find further infestations."

Mr Jordan said community engagement activities would be conducted over the coming weeks to raise awareness of fire ants in the Gold Coast area.

"This will include an information briefing for Council and industry, and mail delivery of fire ant identification information to over 23,000 north Gold Coast residents," he said.

"We’re also approaching local schools and community groups to distribute information through their networks."

Fire ants are one of the world's most invasive species. If they establish in Queensland they have the potential to devastate our state’s economy, environment and our way of life.

Fire ants vary in size, between 2–6 millimetres, are coppery-brown with a dark abdomen, inflict a painful sting and are aggressive. Their nests are mounds of loose soil with no entry or exit holes.

If you see any suspect ants or nests, please take a photograph and submit via our online report form at daf.qld.gov.au/fireants or call Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

Watch our video - Learn the Top 5 places to look for fire ants

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