New frontier opens in fire ant battle

Published 5:00am 29 April 2024

New frontier opens in fire ant battle
Words by Nick Crockford

Cutting-edge drones are taking fire-ant treatment to new heights as the national eradication program opens a depot in Caboolture.

Drones can reach areas beyond helicopters and ground teams as part of the ramped-up drive to remove fire ants from Australia by 2032.

Fire ants are native to South America and can sting humans, affect the environment, displace and eliminate native animals.

They were first discovered in Brisbane in 2001. In the last 12 months there have been 27 confirmed sites in the City of Moreton Bay.

New frontier opens in fire ant battle

To see the National Fire Ant Eradication Program hotspot map click here

However, the new drones now operating will provide navigational support for the ground teams to deliver faster, safer and more cheaper fire ant treatment.

“With drone technology we can treat up to 200 hectares per day with incredible accuracy and reduced operational costs,” Executive Program Director for the National Fire Ant Eradication Program, Ashley Bacon said.

“It lays a foundation for a scalable and sustainable solution that can be integrated into our broader treatment efforts and allows us to efficiently allocate resources to where they are most needed.

New frontier opens in fire ant battle

“We have witnessed exciting results during testing, noticing drones reduce the chance of unsettling livestock like helicopters sometimes do.

“This enhances safety for landholders and our ground-support teams, allowing us to complete treatment more seamlessly.”

Mr Bacon said each of the fire ant treatment methods – hand-held spreaders, utility terrain vehicles, helicopters and now remotely piloted drones – plays a vital role.

New frontier opens in fire ant battle
Fire ant stings after two days

“This technology offers a transformative shift in fire ant treatment practices and increases the capacity of our national program,” he said.

“We are seeing cutting-edge technology being used on the front line of fire ant eradication and this latest innovation delivers efficient, effective treatment with increased human and environmental safety.”

Visit fireants.org.au or call 13 25 23 to learn more about fire ants and eradication treatment.

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