Thursday, June 13, 2024

Fire ants now a bit close for comfort

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The discovery of fire ants near Oakey has set off alarm bells across the eastern Darling Downs with authorities taking action to treat and maintain monitoring of the activity.

A member of the public reported the nests on Tuesday 16 April, with initial surveillance and treatment conducted by the program the next day.

Teams from the national program are working to determine the extent of the infestation and treat all nests.

Eradication activities, including intensive treatment and surveillance will occur up to 5 kilometres out from the detection site to protect the area and ensure no undetected fire ants remain.

Compliance and tracing investigations are also underway to help determine how the ants arrived in the area.

Residents and businesses in Oakey have been encouraged to join the fight by looking for and reporting any suspect nests or ants.

Fire ants are copper brown in colour and have a darker abdomen.

They measure 2 to 6 millimetres in length with a variety of sizes found in each nest.

Fire ant nests appear as mounds or patches of loose soil and have no obvious entry or exit holes.

Fire ants are attracted to disturbed soil and can be transported through human-assisted movement of organic materials.

This is the greatest risk to their spread and can have devastating impacts on the environment, economy, human and animal health, and our outdoor way of life.

Visit fireants.org.au for more information.

Ashley Bacon, Executive Program Director, National Fire Ant Eradication Program Ashley Baker said the Oakey detection is concerning, but there are procedures in place deal with it.

“We have managed outlier detections before, and we will do it again,” he said.

“Eradicating fire ants is not easy – it will take a whole-of-community approach.

“We need everyone to look for and report fire ants to us online at fireants.org.au or by calling 13 25 23.

“We also need people to let our teams in if we need to conduct eradication activities on their properties and take steps not to spread the invasive pest.”

The Invasive Species Council has expressed serious concern following the detection of the new fire ant nests at Oakey.

The Council said the new find, which is within the Murray-Darling Basin catchment, makes a rapid-fire ant funding review by Prime Minister Albanese urgent and essential.

“This new detection outside the fire ant eradication zone and within the Murray-Darling Basin catchment should mean alarm bells are ringing loudly in the Prime Minister’s office,” Advocacy Manager for the Invasive Species Council, Reece Pianta said.

“The government must spare no expense in responding to this outbreak and the whole community should treat this very, very seriously.

“While we have full confidence in the National Eradication Program’s response to this outbreak, we are very worried that not enough money is being spent by governments on the fire ant invasion.”

On Our Selection News 25 April 2024

This article appeared in On Our Selection News, 25 April 2024.

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