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Location of fire ants in Queensland

In Queensland, the first 2 incursions were discovered in 2001, 1 in the south western suburbs of Brisbane and the other at the Port of Brisbane. The third and fourth incursions were found in Yarwun, Central Queensland in 2006 and 2013. The fifth and most recent incursion was found at Brisbane Airport in 2015.

The Port of Brisbane, Yarwun and Brisbane Airport incursions have been successfully eradicated.

Spread from the initial Brisbane infestation has led to infestations around the greater Brisbane area, Ipswich, Logan and Redlands. Isolated infestations have also been found in Scenic Rim, Gold Coast and Lockyer Valley.

Genetic analysis shows there have been 2 further incursions of fire ants into Australia.

View maps of fire ant biosecurity zones.

Fire ant detections

The following maps show where community fire-ant reports have come from in 3-month blocks.

Low fire-ant infestation indicates that less than 1% of properties in the suburb have reported fire ants. Very high infestation indicates that more than 10% of properties in the suburb have reported fire ants.

Significant detections

Significant detections are treated with priority. This includes undertaking delineation surveillance 500m out from each nest and targeted surveillance out to 2km.

Recent detections

The following significant detections were made during the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program winter surveillance activities. These activities involve checking hundreds of properties in the eradication area and around the fringe of the infestation to ensure the ants have not spread.

  • Boonah: A member of the public found and reported fire ants on a property on 11 June 2021. The nest was treated and delineation surveillance is underway.
  • Charlwood: A member of the public found and reported a fire ant nest on a property on 31 May 2021. The nest was treated and delineation surveillance is underway.
  • Coulson: A member of the public found and reported several fire ant nests on farmland in Coulson on 19 May 2021. The nests were treated and delineation surveillance is underway.

How fire ants spread

Fire ants spread naturally through mating flights and budding. A mated female (queen) can fly up to 5km, while a newly mated queen finds a suitable nesting site, sheds her wings and starts a new colony.

Humans can spread fire ants via:

  • shipments of infested nursery stock, soil or other materials that may carry fire ants
  • materials and containers stored in fire ant biosecurity zones
  • machinery that has been used to move soil.

To stop the spread of fire ants, the Queensland Government has implemented movement controls in certain parts of Queensland (fire ant biosecurity zones).

Where fire ants came from

Fire ants are from South America and are native to the floodplains of the Paraguay River in Brazil, Paraguay and northern Argentina. They entered the southern United States in the 1930s, probably in soil used as ship ballast, and have been spreading across the US ever since.

Fire ants would have been unknowingly imported into Brisbane, possibly up to 20 years ago. The pathway of entry into Brisbane is unknown, but was possibly in a shipping container from the US. They were first detected in the Brisbane area in February 2001.

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