Fire ants warning after local nests found

Published 9:00am 21 June 2023

Fire ants warning after local nests found
Words by Kylie Knight
Images: National Fire Ant Eradication Program.

The recent discovery of fire ant nests in Burpengary East is proof the dangerous pests are still a real threat and vigilance is key to eradicating them.

Moreton Bay Regional Council confirmed the discovery and said immediate action was taken by Council's environment officers and Biosecurity Queensland.

While treatment of the nests helped prevent further spread of the invasive pests, the serious biosecurity threat remains real and active.

Mayor Peter Flannery says the fight against fire ants cannot be won without community vigilance.

“Keep an eye out and report anything that seems suspicious. Together, we can combat this infestation quickly,” Mayor Flannery says.

“The presence of fire ants poses a significant threat to our environment, community, economy and natural heritage. We must remain alert.

“They are a significant threat to our native wildlife and present risks to public safety and wellbeing, with their painful stings and aggressive nature. You don't want your kids or pets coming into contact with these pests.”

Moreton Bay residents are urged to be on the lookout and report any suspected fire ant sightings.

More information about what to look for and how to report a suspected fire ant nest is available on the National Fire Ants Eradication Program website.

Fire ants warning after local nests found
A fire ant nest near a water meter. Image: National Fire Ant Eradication Program.

Why fire ants are a threat

Human health

Fire ants are very aggressive when their nests are disturbed. They usually move quickly, allowing large numbers to move onto humans before they are detected.

Stings from fire ants can cause a painful, burning, itching sensation, lasting up to one hour. Multiple stings give a sensation the body is on fire.

Small pustules may form at sting sites several hours after stinging and may become itchy and infected.

In rare cases, fire ant stings can lead to a severe, sometimes fatal, allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.

They are also a significant health risk to pets and livestock.

Environment

Fire ants feed on fauna that nests or feeds on the ground, including insects, spiders, lizards, frogs, birds and mammals.

They can displace or eliminate some native species, eat and damage seeds, and possibly cause major ecosystem changes over time.

Fire ants predate or disturb insects and animals that pollinate native plants, which may also cause long-term changes to bushland areas.

They attack bird species that feed on the ground or live in areas up to 1m above ground.

Economic and Lifestyle

Fire ants have the potential to surpass the combined damage done each year by Australia’s worst pests: feral cats, wild dogs, foxes, camels, rabbits and cane toads.

They can also affect tourism industries, making popular destinations unattractive.

Fire ant nests can be a serious problem in lawns, parks, sporting fields and other large expanses of greenspace.

Because they are so aggressive, and fire ant nests can hold tens of thousands of ants, they can significantly limit access to sport and recreation areas.

For more information, head to the website

Fire ants warning after local nests found
Crews searching for fire ants at Burpengary East. Image: Moreton Bay Regional Council.

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