Over the summer, a joint government initiative is offering free fire ant bait to all Greater Springfield residents to help prevent their spread.
The National Fire Ant Eradication Program is a long-term project delivered by Biosecurity Queensland, with ongoing coordination and support across all three levels of Australian government.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner said households in eligible suburbs who register would receive two free rounds of bait.
The first round requires registration prior to Sunday, November 20.
“The bait is safe for people and pets, and both homeowners and renters can register for free bait,” Mr Furner said.
The government considers fire ants to be a “super pest” that may surpass the severity of Australia’s current worst invasive species, such as rabbits, cane toads, and feral cats.
Any suspected ants or nests should immediately be reported by calling the Program website (www.fireants.org.au) or calling 13 25 23.
Environment and Sustainability Committee Chairperson Councillor Russell Milligan said fire ants pose a huge threat to the economy, environment, and outdoor lifestyle of all residents, including sporting events, barbecues, and picnics.
“They inflict a painful, fiery sting, which in rare cases can cause a severe allergic reaction,” Cr Milligan said.
“Ipswich is in a Biosecurity zone with many known outbreak areas, but with the recent flooding it is likely fire ants have used the floodwater to ‘raft’ and colonise new areas.”
An imported pest, fire ants are comparatively small (at 2 to 6 millimetres), and highly adaptive to Australian ecosystems.
They are copper (reddish) brown in colour, with a darker abdomen, their sizes tend to vary within each nest, and they act aggressively, swarming when disturbed.
Gently and very cautiously uncovering or poking a suspected nest site to examine their behaviour may help in identification.
“I urge everyone to check their yards and properties now for fire ants, and report any sightings through fireants.org.au or call 13 25 23,” Cr Milligan added.
Division 1 Councillor Sheila Ireland explained that while nests often appear as “dome-shaped mounds” up to 40 centimetres high, they may also be quite flat, appearing “like a small patch of disturbed soil.”
“The nests become more visible after rain because the fire ants build their nests higher in the wet,” she added.