Fire ants

Aerial fire ant treatment

The distribution of bait by helicopter is the most effective way of eradicating fire ants on larger properties. By using helicopters, the program can cover hundreds of thousands of hectares each treatment season.

The bait used is safe for humans and animals and livestock are generally unconcerned by the helicopters.

Fire ant bait treatment by helicopter

Video published by BiosecurityQld.

Duration 00:01:46

Treatment process

Before we carry out aerial bait treatment we inform residents of the planned treatment dates – which are weather dependent.

Treatment can occur between 7am and 4pm, seven days a week and several rounds of bait is required.

Each site is individually assessed before treatment to take account of factors like crops or livestock. Sites that are not suitable for treatment by helicopter will have bait distributed by program staff on foot and/or all-terrain vehicle.

If your property has animals, crops or other features you think we should be aware of you can submit an online property information form.

We use highly-experienced pilots who continually observe on-ground behaviour of horses, cattle and other livestock during the treatment. If issues arise they will fly the helicopter away from the area.

Program staff are also located on the ground nearby and will alert the pilots to any issues. Signage will be erected in the surrounding area to notify residents of the aerial baiting taking place.


The bait used consists of corn grit soaked in a mixture of soybean oil and an insect growth regulator.

It is placed in hoppers on the side of the helicopter and released over the target area.

Foraging fire ants carry the bait back to the nest where it sterilises the queen ant, causing the nest to die out naturally over the course of three to four months.

Free-range poultry will require containment away from the baiting during and after treatment for 24 hours to ensure any fire ants in the vicinity can gather the bait before the chickens consume it.

Other animals, like cattle and horses, do not need to be relocated for the treatment.

Once the baiting has been carried out it’s important that you do not water, mow or disturb your lawn, gardens and paddocks for at least 24 hours, preferably 48 hours.

The Biosecurity Act and accessing properties

Under the Biosecurity Act 2014, program officers are authorised to enter properties to undertake treatment for fire ants.Residents cannot refuse access to their property or obstruct our officers carrying out their work.

Read officers accessing your property for more information.

Review the aerial treatment FAQs for more information.

In this guide:

  1. Top 5 places to check for fire ants
  2. Living and working in fire ant biosecurity zones
  3. Fire ant biosecurity zones suburbs list
  4. Fire ant eradication and suppression treatment
  5. Aerial fire ant treatment
  6. Fire ant treatment frequently asked questions
  7. Training and education about fire ants
  8. Fire ant biology and ecology

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