Australia has been swarmed with pest issues over the last 12 months. Feral pigs, the fall armyworm and the infamous mouse plague, have wreaked havoc across Australia in recent times. One pest that we’ve become very familiar with since the early 2000s is the Fire Ant.
The first two incursions of fire ants were discovered in 2001 in Queensland, in the Port of Brisbane and the southwestern suburbs of Brisbane. The third and fourth fire ant incursions were detected in Yarwun, Central Queensland, in 2006 and 2013. The most recent incursion was detected in Brisbane Airport in 2015. Fire ants detected in the Port of Brisbane, Yarwun and Brisbane Airport were successfully eradicated. The initial infestation in Brisbane has spread to other areas within the greater Brisbane area, including Ipswich, Logan and Redlands.
Fire ants can spread without human interference, to an extent. This is through mating flights and budding. A queen, or mated female, can fly up to 5km. When this newly mated female finds an appropriate nesting site, she will shed her wings and start her new colony.
When it comes to human interference, we can spread fire ants by shipping infested nursery stock, shipping containers and other materials located in fire ant biosecurity zones and with machinery that has had contact with soil.
Originally, fire ants came from South America. They are native to the floodplains of the Paraguay River in Brazil, Paraguay and northern Argentina. They infested the southern United States during the 1930s, likely in soil used as ship ballast. Fire ant colonies have since continued their spread throughout the United States ever since.
When it comes to Queensland’s fire ant infestation, fire ants would have been unknowingly imported into Brisbane. While it is unknown how exactly they entered, it was possible via a shipping container from the US.
To prevent (and stop) the spread of fire ants, the Queensland government has put movement controls into place across certain parts of Queensland – these are referred to as fire ant biosecurity zones.
These fire ant biosecurity zones were recently updated in Queensland.
Fire ant biosecurity zone updates
The recent fire ant biosecurity zone updates came into effect on June 7, 2021. It now includes ten new suburbs which are in close proximity to affected areas to zone two. These suburbs include Fernvale, Fairney View, Josephville, Cryna, Kerry, Nindooinbah, Biddaddaba, Benobble, Canungra and Witheren.
It will also add 20 new or shifted suburbs which have been affected to zone one. These 20 new or shifted suburbs include Clarendon, Rifle Range, Lowood, Glamorgan Vale, Lark Hill, Marburg, Haigslea, Tallegalla, The Bluff, Ashwell, Lanefield, Rosewood, Thagoona, Ebenezer, Willowbank, Purga, Goolman, Lyons, South Ripley and Undullah.
How will these biosecurity zones limit the spread of fire ants?
Legal movement restrictions are in place in these biosecurity zones. These restrictions limit the spread of fire ants. Such movement can include movement of soil, straw or baled hay, mulch and animal manure. Any storage or movement of these materials needs to comply with the regulations outlined in the Biosecurity Regulation 2016.
To hinder the risk of fire ants spreading, any on-ground storage of these materials in fire ant zones must be on either bitumen or concrete (without any cracks) or a barrier that is impenetrable by fire ants on chemically treated compacted ground (not sand). When it comes to off-ground storage, straw and hay must be effectively covered with a barrier that ultimately deters all ants – including the flying queens.
What if you can’t comply with the procedures?
If you are unable to comply with the procedures, a biosecurity instrument permit (a type of movement permit) may be required.
If you need any more information regarding the recent movement restrictions and regulations, permits, guides and the chemical treatment of compacted ground or perimeters, refer to these websites:
If you see fire ants, you must notify the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program on 13 25 23. Alternatively, complete the online fire ant notification form. At Global Rotomoulding, we understand there are countless responsibilities farmers need to keep up with. We stock several high-quality agricultural products that maximise functionality and productivity. If you have any questions about our range, be sure to contact our helpful team today.