Friday 22 September 2023
With School Holidays starting next week and Australians out with their kids enjoying the sunshine, the Invasive Species Council have called on families to join the fire ant fight in northern NSW and South-East Queensland.
“Over the school holidays, thousands of Australian families will be heading to places like the Gold Coast or Byron Bay for a holiday or going out camping with the kids on Minjerribah or the Sunshine Coast,” said Invasive Species Council Conservation Officer Reece Pianta.
“Sadly these incredible holiday spots are at risk of a fire ant invasion, so we’re asking Australian families to step up and join the fire ant fight these school holidays.
“It’s really easy to do your part. Just take a picture of any suspicious ants and report it.
“And don’t worry if you’re not sure what type of ant it is, every picture that is sent in will be vital information for the eradication program.
“Of course, fire ants are dangerous. Don’t put yourself, clothing or belongings in direct contact with ants or their nests.
“If your kids are curious about an ant nest they’ve seen, make sure you go with them and ensure they stay at arms length when taking a photo,” said Mr Pianta.
** IMPORTANT: IF YOU ARE ATTACKED BY FIRE ANTS SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION **
“Almost everyone carries a fire ant fighting tool in their pocket. With a smartphone you can easily take a picture or video and immediately send it to the eradication team to check,” Mr Pianta said.
“With fire ants just a few kilometres from the NSW border and surging through the Gold Coast or north towards the Sunshine Coast, we need the community to step up and do their part.
“As the weather warms up, fire ants will be more active and community reporting is the main way fire ants are being found.
“Ongoing containment and suppression mean it is still possible to eradicate fire ants from Australia if we all do our part.
‘While out in the garden, at the park, taking a walk, camping or at the beach, we should all be on the lookout for suspicious ants,” said Mr Pianta.
How to identify a fire ant nest:
- Fire ants are 2-6mm, coppery brown and exhibit a swarming response when nests are disturbed.
- Nests often take the form of a mound of dirt without an obvious entry hole on top as foraging tunnels are the main nest access points.
How to look, snap and report a suspected fire ant nest:
- Keep your eyes peeled for suspicious ants or ant mounds when you’re out in the garden, at the park, taking a walk, camping or at the beach. Don’t worry if you’re not sure what type of ant it is, every report is vital information for the eradication program.
- Be mindful of your safety if you think you have found fire ants. Keep your distance and do not put yourself, clothing or belongings in direct contact with fire ants or their nests.
- Take a photo or short video of the ants on your smartphone. Try to take a few close ups of the ants and their nest.
- Report fire ants to:
- Queensland: 13 25 23 or www.fireants.org.au
- New South Wales: 1800 680 244 or
- If you think fire ants are on your property, find advice on what to do by visiting:
Photos and video to accompany this release are available hereand include:
- Images of parent Hayley Nizic and her child Alex in Brisbane taking pictures of ants and reporting them
- Video of Hayley and Alex looking for and reporting ants
- Fire ant identification image
- Fire ant nest image
- Fire ant bites image
- Image of fire ants consuming a bird hatchling
- Map of current fire ant spread
Fire ant impacts if they are allowed to spread across Australia include:
- $2 billion per year economic burden
- Cut agriculture output by up to 40%
- 140,000 extra medical visits and over 3,000 anaphylactic reactions every year
- About 60% of people could be stung every year
- Damage to water and electrical infrastructure
- Population declines and habitat loss for native wildlife that could lead to extinctions
- Fire ants will be worse than cane toads, rabbits, foxes and feral cats combined if they get out and spread across Australia.
The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries fire ant communication resource kit is also available here:https://bit.ly/Fireantresourcecommunicationkit
The pack includes:
- High-resolution images of fire ants
- High-resolution images of fire ant nests
- Key messaging aligned with fire ant surveillance (community and industry)
- Example social media posts for fire ant community surveillance
- HD video resource of a fire ant nest and the distinct swarming behaviour of fire ants
- Print and digital collateral (brochures, posters, socials, ID cards, email banner)
Other useful resources:
- National Fire Ant Eradication Program website: One-stop-shop for all things fire ants – www.fireants.org.au
- Fire ant factsheets: (these are printable – Right click & ‘Print’) – www.fireants.org.au/training-and-tools/factsheets
- Fire ant online training: Covers fire ant identification, movement and treatment – www.fireants.org.au/training-and-tools/fire-ant-training
- Fire ant image library: High-resolution images and video available for public use – www.fireants.org.au/training-and-tools/resources/image-library
- Invasive Species Council: Reece Pianta, 0422 935 665 or (02) 8006 5004
The Invasive Species Council campaigns for stronger laws, policies and programs to protect Australia’s native plants and animals from environmental weeds, feral animals and other invaders.