NSW takes immediate action against fire ants

23 Jul 2023

NSW has taken immediate action to reduce the risk of fire ants entering NSW after fire ants were detected at Tallebudgera, a suburb in the City of the Gold Coast, just 5.5km from the NSW border.

Immediately following detection of the ants at the premise, the NSW Biosecurity (Invasive Ant Carriers) Control Order 2023 was triggered to prohibit the movement of materials that could bring the ant into NSW.

Materials such as mulch, soil, baled hay, turf and other high-risk material cannot be moved from within a 5 km radius of this site without inspection and certification by QLD authorities.

Minister for Agriculture, Tara Moriarty said while the nest has been destroyed, it is crucial that residents and businesses in northern NSW be alert for the signs of fire ants and to report any suspected detections.

“This is the closest detection of fire ants to the NSW border since they were first detected at the Port of Brisbane in 2001, and more recently at Mermaid Waters in Queensland, 11.5 kilometres north of the border,” Minister Moriarty said.

“It is important to keep NSW free from this invasive and aggressive pest, which if established, will have a huge impact on the way we live our lives and could affect our export markets and ability to trade.

“That’s why the NSW Government recently committed $95 million, over the next four years, towards protecting our State and partnering in the ongoing response to red imported fire ant.

“NSW DPI is working closely with the National Fire Ant Eradication Program, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and northern NSW local government authorities.

“Residents and businesses should check their properties as finding fire ants early and alerting NSW DPI will increase the chances of successful eradication.”

Fire ants are dark reddish-brown with a darker black-brown abdomen and from two to six millimetres long. They look similar to other ants, but their ant nests are distinctive with mounds of loose, crumbly or fluffy looking soil with a honeycomb appearance, up to 40 centimetres high, with no obvious entrance holes.

Red imported fire ants can damage electrical and agricultural equipment, sting people causing allergic reactions, sting pets and livestock, kill native plants and animals as well as damage ecosystems beyond repair.

Residents and businesses should report any sign of fire ants to the NSW DPI on 1800 680 244.

Anyone bringing nesting materials into NSW, such as mulch, woodchips, compost, sand, gravel, soil, hay and other baled products from the red imported fire ant biosecurity zone in southeast Queensland, should check their requirements online, red imported fire ants (nsw.gov.au).

For more information about red imported fire ants, visit the NSW DPI website.

MEDIA: Liam O’Callaghan | Moriarty | 0458 960 766