Turf management in fire ant biosecurity zones

Untreated turf from fire ant biosecurity zones is a high risk for the spread of fire ants.

The Biosecurity Regulation 2016 outlines what management methods you must follow when producing, storing and moving turf in a fire ant biosecurity zone.

Moving turf in, across or outside the fire ant biosecurity zones

You may move turf in, across or outside the fire ant fire ant biosecurity zones if you:

  • move material from zone 1 directly to a waste facility in zone 1 or 2
  • or
  • move material from zone 2 directly to a waste facility in zone 2 only
  • or
  • move the material within 24 hours of it arriving at the original place
  • or
  • follow the management methods outlined in the section below.

You can also use our fire ant advice tool to find out what requirements apply to you.

If you are unable to comply with these conditions then you must request a biosecurity instrument permit from an inspector.

Management methods

You can minimise the risk of fire ant infestation in turf by:

  • applying insecticide correctly and at the required times
  • storing turf correctly.

Treatment of turf

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) has approved the use of bifenthrin for the control of fire ants on commercial turf farms as outlined below:

  • 240g/L bifenthrin product (or its equivalent in other concentrations)—refer to APVMA permit number PER14317 (expires 29 February 2024).

You can search for permits on the APVMA website.

All use of insecticides must be in accordance with the conditions of the permit and in conjunction with the product's label.

Treating with bifenthrin

Bifenthrin is the preferred method of fire ant treatment for turf. Apply 1 treatment of bifenthrin (check the APVMA permit to ensure you use the correct amount). Do not lift the turf for at least 48 hours after treatment.

If you don't harvest the treated turf within 42 days, you should treat it again to maintain ongoing protection.

Irrigate the treated area immediately after each application.

Any variations to the treatment regime may not provide appropriate protection against fire ants before the turf is harvested, sold and moved.

For further information, contact a National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program inspector on 13 25 23.

Storage of turf

If turf will be stored on the property for more than 24 hours, you must use 1 of the following storage options:

  • off-ground and covered (e.g. in a shed, under a shade cloth or tarpaulin)
  • or
  • on-ground, and covered, on 1 of the following surfaces:
    • concrete or bitumen (no cracks)
    • a barrier that cannot be penetrated by fire ants (e.g. 200 micron unperforated plastic sheeting)
    • compacted ground (other than sand) that has been treated with an appropriate chemical product before storage.

Chemical treatment must be applied around the perimeter of the on-ground storage area. This should be done by applying a 30cm-wide strip of insecticide containing bifenthrin. If soil is stored on compacted ground, the whole surface area must also be treated.

Keep the treated area free of material that could form an untreated bridge to the soil.

For an insecticide registered as a horizontal or perimeter barrier for fire ants, refer to APVMA permit number PER14317 (expires 29 February 2024).

Keeping a record

You should keep a written record of the steps you have taken to ensure you have managed the turf in accordance with these guidelines and the permit. Keep these records for a minimum of 2 years.

Also consider...