Final baiting underway to drive fire ants from valley
AS Fire Ants begin to emerge from their winter hibernation, eradication officers are standing ready to stamp them out for good.
Fresh rounds of bait treatment are underway in the Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim and parts of the Ipswich local government area.
National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program General Manager Graeme Dudgeon said the rising ground temperature was bringing the ants back out of hiding to forage for food, making it the ideal time to start baiting again.
"This treatment season is particularly important," he said.
"By mid-2020, we'll be able to see further evidence that our eradication strategy is working."
Since 2018, a multi-million, ten-year operation has been underway to identify and destroy fire ant populations, starting in the west with the Lockyer Valley and Darlings Downs, and working east towards Ipswich.
This season is intended to be the final push to drive the ants out of the western treatment area for good.
"Initial reports are very positive with residents in parts of the Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim and the Ipswich City local government areas telling us - 'there used to be ants, now there are none'." Mr Dudgeon said.
"This season, the program aims to complete its eradication treatment in the west while controlling heavily infested areas, including suburbs of western Ipswich, Logan and northern Gold Coast that will also receive treatment."
He asked that residents be accommodating to eradication officers who are out dealing with the ants.
"As part of the treatment program, program officers will be entering properties to disperse fire ant bait over lawns, garden beds, paddocks and open areas," he said.
"If officers are in your neighbourhood, please allow them to access your property to conduct treatment. They are easily identified by their uniform and identification cards."
For residents concerned about the impact the bait could have on their properties, Mr Dudgeon offered his assurance it would only effect the ants.
"Fire ant bait is made up of corn grit soaked in soybean oil and an insect growth regulator. The active ingredients are widely used in mosquito control programs and in dog and cat flea collars," he said.
"The bait is not harmful to humans, plants or animals," said Mr Dudgeon.
Fire ants are classed as a 'super pest', being aggressive, adaptive and adept at survival.
Despite these formidable traits, Australia has succeeded in elimination efforts, where other countries have not.
"Since the program began, Australia has eradicated five separate incursions of fire ants, including a population spread over 8,000 hectares at the Port of Brisbane," Mr Dudgeon said.
"This is the largest eradication of any ant species in the world."