Fire Ants have the potential to cause extensive environmental and economic damage, affecting property, business and lifestyle. The cost of the failure to eradicate the pests could be as high as $43 billion. While the numbers of fire ants decreased during 2011, by the end of that year the region infested was larger than ever, moving beyond Brisbane to the Gold Coast, Scenic Rim and Lockyer Valley. In fact, the amount of land infested has doubled since 2001.
For 12 years South East Queensland has battled with a fire ant outbreak, with the State Government fire ant staff the only ones permitted to treat nests, however all that has recently changed.
Having only fire ant staff allowed to treat nests has resulted in a backlog, which the government now hopes to eliminate. Legal and safety requirements are in place though. Should you find fire ants or a nest on your property there are measures to be followed and issues to be understood:
- Keep children and animals away from the area. Fire ant bites are extremely painful and can cause serious health issues in some people and animals.
- All infestations should be reported to DAFF (Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry). This is a legal requirement.
- Reporting infestations to DAFF will also ensure that the follow up treatment and surveillance is conducted.
- Anyone moving fire ants or materials such as soils and plants out of a restricted or high risk area risks a penalty of up to $75,000 for individuals and $375,000 for corporations.
- Fire ant nests should be treated with a product with the active ingredient Hydramethylnon. There are numerous products available from hardware, produce and chemical stores.
- Always follow the product safety and application instructions exactly.
For those living in a high risk area you can now move materials to a local water facility for treatment and disposal, treat infestations and seek a fire ant inspector’s assistance if required. Those in a low risk area are not currently subjected to any particular requirements, but are asked to remain vigilant and report any sighting to DAFF immediately.
For help with fire ant identification, to determine if you live in a high or low risk area, for treatment protocols and reporting, contact DAFF.
Daleys Turf fully comply with all government requirements pertaining to the moving of soil and plant materials, understanding the potential damage fire ants can cause and endeavouring to do our part to help stop the spread of these destructive and dangerous pests.