Fire Ants are Taking Over Toowong, Residents Warned

Photo credit: https://www.daf.qld.gov.au/

Biosecurity Queensland has released a warning that fire ants have been detected in Toowong. Residents say the recent flooding may have caused the fire ants to emerge from their mounds. Biosecurity Queensland urges residents to take precautionary measures and follow their guidelines to eradicate these destructive ants.

Fire ants were first detected in Brisbane in 2011. These South American ants are a huge threat to the social, economic, and environmental state of Queensland. They were considered Category 1 restricted pests under the Biosecurity Act 2014. Residents must immediately report suspected sightings of fire ants on their property to Biosecurity Queensland.

 

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Fire Ants and Their Deadly Stings

Fire ants produce large mounds in open areas. They feed on young plants and seeds. They also often attack small animals and can kill them. Getting bitten by a fire ant can be deadly to sensitive people. The painful sting is similar to a burning sensation, hence the name. Its after effects can be critical. They nest in soil that is near moist areas. It is easy to overlook their soil because it is usually built under objects such as bricks and rocks.

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Mounds of fire ants can reach up to 40 centimetres. It could go higher on heavier soils and reach up to 1 meter in height. Fire ant colonies are established by a group of queens or single queens. Even if only one queen survives, the colony can expand within a month.

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Fire Ants Invasion in Queensland

In 2011, the fire ant infestation reached record highs and the State Government found its $15-million fire ant eradication budget severely lacking. Queensland Agriculture Minister Tim Mulherin even accused the state government of putting biosecurity at risk through their insufficient funding. Mr Mulherin pushed for a stronger ongoing funding to prevent the pests from getting into other states such as NSW and Victoria.

Last year, fire ants were detected at the Brisbane airport making the Australian and Queensland Governments respond quickly to the matter because it could kill people and pets, and affect the livestock of residents. Queensland acquired support from Australian states and territories to eradicate the pests and more than $910,000 has been allocated for the eradication program’s use over a two-year period.

The fire ant program has been successful in Port Botany, Gladstone, and the Port of Brisbane, proving that eradication is possible if done quickly.

 

Fire Ants Prevention

Toowong residents are urged to call Biosecurity Queensland or you can accomplish their online form here if you see a fire ant. If you get stung by one, here is what you need to do:

  • Apply a cold compress.
  • Wash the affected area with soap and water.
  • Seek medical attention if you’re allergic to insect stings or you experience allergy symptoms.

All residents are required to check their properties for fire ants and report it right away under the Biosecurity Act 2014. For more details, click here.

Photo credit: https://www.daf.qld.gov.au/