The red imported fire ants pose a huge threat to agriculture and Gladstone's outdoor lifestyle.
The red imported fire ants pose a huge threat to agriculture and Gladstone's outdoor lifestyle. Contributed

Yarwun bio-scare over killer fire ants at industrial site

BIOSECURITY teams will flood onto an industrial site in Yarwun by Friday, hoping to secure the area from an infestation of potentially deadly fire ants.

Until genetic testing is completed next week it's unknown whether these dangerous creatures with their painful sting come from a colony thought to be eradicated in the same area in 2006, or whether it's a new infestation.

But we do know the red imported fire ants pose a huge threat to biosecurity and people's lives, after two people died in Texas earlier this year from the deadly fire ant.

Meanwhile the Queensland Government has been staging a 12-year war to try and get rid of the ants, who hitched a ride from the Americas.

Originally from Argentina, the US has been particularly affected, facing more than $6 billion annually for fire ant damage and control, with Australia spending around $9 billion over 30 years.

Back home the site manager in the Yarwun facility reported the ants with photographs of their activity, causing Biosecurity Queensland to quarantine the site.

BQ Control Centre head Craig Jennings acknowledged the co-operation of the business, which allowed the departmental officers to move in quickly.

"We have teams on the ground conducting surveillance to determine the extent of the infestation and make sure there's been no further spread," he said.

"We currently have teams travelling to the site to treat the nests and bait the immediate area.

"If you get stung the ants are very aggressive, they send a chemical signal and they all sting repeatedly."

FIRE ANTS

  • 2-6mm in size, coppery-brown with a dark abdomen, aggressive and inflict a painful sting.
  • They threaten agriculture, our outdoor lifestyle and stop children playing safely in backyards.
  • They can be found in high-risk materials which include: Construction and landscaping materials, soil, sand and pot plants, baled hay and straw, machinery and earthmoving equipment.

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