A NSW Government website

Keeping NSW free of fire ants

Outlining how fire ants spread and what to look for

Fire ants infest around 600,000 ha in South East Queensland, close to the NSW border which poses an ongoing risk of new infestations in NSW.

Most of NSW has been free of fire ants. Recent infestations in South Murwillumbah and Wardell are currently being treated with the goal of eradication. A previous infestation at Port Botany was successfully eradicated.

The movement of fire ant carrier material from fire ant infested areas is prohibited unless certain conditions are met. Conditions are detailed in the Biosecurity (Fire Ant) Emergency order.

NSW partners with and contributes funding to the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program

How fire ant spread

Fire ants can fly up to 5 km, form rafts to float on water, and travel over or under the ground.

Long distance spread is mostly through humans when fire ant carrier material is moved. This is why restrictions on the movement of fire ant carrier material are in place. Fire ant carrier materials include:

  • organic mulch
  • compost
  • growing media
  • manure
  • soil and anything with soil on it
  • hay, straw, chaff, silage
  • potted plants
  • turf
  • agricultural equipment
  • earth moving equipment
  • sand, gravel, chitters, coal fines, coal stone, overburden and decomposed granite.

Useful information

Fire ants spread in hay (PDF, 191 KB) - advice and FAQs for hay sellers, hay buyers, drought affected areas, charity organisations, pony clubs and horse owners.

Seen them? Contact us.

Use the online form for any suspicious sightings or call 1800 680 244.