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Sugar cane burn to stop electric ant spread

News release | 06-Sep-2017

A Smithfield sugar cane farmer will be burning two sugar cane fields this weekend to help Biosecurity Queensland eradicate electric ants.

National Electric Ant Eradication Program Coordinator Gary Morton said after electric ants were found on the Smithfield property, Biosecurity Queensland Officers could not enter the standing cane safely to treat the ants.

“Burning the field will ensure that the cane is cleanly harvested and no electric ants will be spread in cane bins as they are transported off the property,” Mr Morton said.

“Depending on weather conditions, the burn is planned for the 9-10 September and will allow us to safely access the land to treat the electric ants.

“The fire will also leave no trash cover on the ground ensuring that our bait treatment will reach the ground and be taken away by the ants.

“If we can’t treat this area safely and completely, then it would jeopardise our chances of eradicating electric ants from Far North Queensland.”

Mr Morton said there may be smoke and smut which might inconvenience people but not eradicating electric ants was far more serious and would cause far worse issues in the longer term.

“This is a great example of the partnership between a landholder, local council, the Rural Fire Service and Biosecurity Queensland working together to eradicate electric ants from Cairns and Australia,” Mr Morton said.

Electric ants are tiny golden brown ants about 1.5 mm long and can inflict a painful sting resulting in itchy and persistent pimples.

Electric ants are a serious invasive species that has the potential to ruin our Queensland way of life, affect our health and have serious environmental impacts.

For more information on the electric ant eradication program or to report electric ants, visit biosecurity.qld.gov.au or call Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

Media contact: Alisa Ives, 07 3087 8598