Red imported fire ants (RIFA) (Solenopsis invicta) are one of the worst invasive species to reach Australia's shores, and continue to be the target of a national cost-shared eradication program.
Fire ants were first detected in February 2001 at the Port of Brisbane and in the south western suburbs of Brisbane, South-east Queensland. Spread from the initial Brisbane infestations led to infestations around the greater Brisbane area including Ipswich, Logan and Redlands. Isolated infestations have also been found in the Scenic Rim, Gold Coast and Lockyer Valley areas. Subsequent incursions were detected at Yarwun (2006 and 2013), Brisbane Airport (September 2015) and the Port of Brisbane (May 2016).
Fire ants have been declared eradicated from Yarwun, and are expected to be eradicated from Brisbane Airport and Port of Brisbane in 2018.
The South-east Queensland and Brisbane Airport incursions are subject to nationally cost-shared eradication programs, while the eradication program for Port of Brisbane is funded by the Commonwealth.
The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has further information:
New South Wales
Fire ants were detected at Port Botany, Sydney in November 2014 and has been subject to a successful nationally cost-shared eradication response.
The Port Botany incursion has been declared eradicated.
Further information on the fire ant eradication response at Port Botany can be found on the NSW Department of Primary Industries website
Fire ants are a notifiable pest in most Australian states and territories, which means there is a legal obligation to report suspected detections.
Anyone who suspects that they have seen fire ants or any other type of exotic invasive ants should report sightings to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881. This number will put you in contact with your local department of primary industries or agriculture.
About fire ants
Fire ants are a serious exotic pest that can inflict painful bites on people, pets and livestock. It is one of the most well studied and notorious ants in the world. The extensive damage caused to ecological and agricultural systems by Fire ants is well documented.
Fire ants are native to several South American countries, such as Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina.
Fire ant videos
Hear from people who have lived with fire ants in the United States and find out why we need to eradicate them:
Biosecurity Queensland also has helpful videos on how to identify fire ants and what is involved in the treatment of fire ants:
Photo courtesy of the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries