Hay! Watch out for fire ants

20 Dec 2019

Red imported fire ant

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has alerted livestock owners to a biosecurity risk, urging all to ensure hay and feed from south-east Queensland is free of red imported fire ants.

NSW DPI Invasive Plants and Animals director, Andrew Sanger, said the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program intercepted a truck carrying infested bales of uncertified hay, which had travelled hundreds of kilometres outside the fire ant biosecurity zone in Queensland.

“If stockfeed comes from a fire ant infested area, both the farmer and supplier need to ensure risk mitigation measures have been followed,” Dr Sanger said.

“Hay from the infested area must have a Plant Health Certificate which verifies it meets the strict conditions required to import hay into NSW from the fire ant biosecurity zone."

The Plant Health Certificate must certify:

  • the hay or straw bales have been inspected and found to be dry and free of all soil
  • the hay or straw bales have been treated with an APVMA approved chemical for the control of tramp ants in accordance with all label directions and permit conditions, and
  • immediately following treatment, the hay or straw bales have been handled and stored in a manner that prevents infestation by tramp ants.

Hay or straw bales must remain in conditions which prevent tramp ant infestation until arrival in NSW.

Hay produced within the south-east Queensland fire ant biosecurity zone must comply with these requirements.

Red imported fire ants pose a significant agricultural and environmental biosecurity risk. They are aggressive, highly-adaptive and well-equipped for survival in Australian conditions.

The National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program aims to eradicate the pest from Australia through a 10-year plan.

NSW biosecurity legislation has strict entry conditions for mulch, potted plants, turf and agricultural and earth moving equipment moving into NSW from the Queensland fire ant biosecurity zone.

Photographs available from bernadette.york@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Media contact: Bernadette York 0427 773 785