BEATEN BACK: A fire ant with stinger bared.
BEATEN BACK: A fire ant with stinger bared.

Industry support needed to ensure fire ant eradication

A LIFE without one of the world’s most invasive pests may soon be a reality for Somerset residents, but ensuring it remains fire ant free is reliant on long-term industry support.

The National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program has made great strides in driving them back and many believe fire ants will soon be gone from the Somerset region.

“We’re currently in our third treatment season in that part of Somerset infested by fire ants and all the evidence points to the fact that the area is close to being fire ant free,” the program’s general manager Graeme Dudgeon said.

“We’re only receiving the odd suspect fire ant report and our regular surveillance checks are indicating we’ve had close to a 100 per cent kill rate in the area.”

The Fire Ant Eradication Program has joined forces with Somerset Regional Council to hold a meeting on Thursday, December 12 to educate local businesses having the potential to spread fire ants due to the nature of their work.

“We now need to do everything possible to ensure properties in Somerset remain fire ant free while the program continues to deliver eradication treatment,” Mr Dudgeon said.

“However we can’t keep the area fire ant free without the support of council and local businesses who work with fire ant carriers — this is a whole-of-community effort.”

Somerset Regional Council Mayor Graeme Lehmann said the council strongly supported the work of the program.

“Fire ants have been detected in parts of Somerset and we’re delighted that the program is close to eradicating this destructive pest,” Cr Lehmann said.

“The important thing now is to make sure that we educate businesses in the area who are involved in moving potential fire ant carriers like soil, mulch, hay, turf and garden nursery products like pot plants.”

He encouraged businesses involved in civil works, haulage, earthmoving, building construction, landscaping, hay production, pool construction and turf farming to attend the meeting.

Mr Dudgeon said details about the program’s fire ant eradication plan, self-management options and new enforcement penalties would be outlined at the meeting.

“They’ll also find out about our available enforcement options which include recently introduced penalty infringement notices for individuals and businesses that do the wrong thing and move fire ant carriers from or within fire ant biosecurity zones in breach of Biosecurity Regulation 2016,” he said.

“Fire ants pose a real danger to Australia — they could ruin our way of life, and have serious health and environmental impacts.”

The free meeting will be held at Fernvale Community Hall, 32 Banks Creek Road on Thursday, December 12 from 5pm to 6.30pm.

Event registration is by invitation only. If you would like to be invited please send us an email to fireants@daf.qld.gov.au

To find out more about fire ants and the program, visit https://www.daf.qld.gov.au/news-media/podcasts/fireants

To report fire ants, visit daf.qld.gov.au/fireants or call 13 25 23.


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