Treatment of fire ants at home
Ridding fire ants from South East Queensland requires the whole community to act — from councils and businesses, to owners and tenants.
Originally from South America, fire ants are one of the world’s most invasive pests and have infested many countries around the world, including Australia.
They are extremely aggressive and inflict a painful, fiery sting, which can — in rare cases — cause a severe acute allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis, which is potentially life threatening.
Fire ants pose a real danger to Australia and can seriously impact our agriculture and tourism industries as well as having the potential to ruin our way of life. Every day activities, such as barbecues, picnics and sporting events may no longer be possible in high infestation areas.
To prevent this from happening, the Australian Government and all state and territory governments set up the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program.
Over the years, five separate incursions of fire ants have successfully been eradicated in Queensland, including a population spread over 8,000 hectares at the Port of Brisbane — the largest eradication of any ant species in the world.
The program is currently working on eradicating and containing the last remaining infestation in Australia, which stretches from the Lockyer Valley to Redlands in South East Queensland.
Check for and identify fire ants
Learn how to identify fire ants or follow these steps to check for fire ants in your residential property.
- Look for fire ants nests on your property:
- In urban areas check lawns, footpath edges, around garden beds, near taps and in and around utility pits.
- On rural properties check around dams, along the edges of cultivated land, crop-land post-harvest and along fence lines.
- Fire ant nests look like loose mounds of dirt — with no visible entry or exit holes.
- If you see a suspected fire ant nest, gently poke it with a long stick and look for ants erupting or swarming from the nest. Don’t touch the ants.
- Fire ants are very small (2–6mm in length) and there can be a mix of sizes in the nest. They are coppery brown colour with a darker abdomen.
Report suspected fire ants
If you think you’ve found fire ants, do not disturb the nest further. Report them to the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program by:
- calling 13 25 23, or
- completing an online suspect ant report.
It is a legal requirement under the Biosecurity Act 2014 to report any suspect fire ants on your property. You will be given a report number (‘ANT-number’) as a reference when you report fire ants to the program.
Treating fire ants
There are three options for treating fire ants on your property:
- Engage a pest manager
We recommend you engage a pest manager that has completed the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program training. They have been taught the most effective way to treat fire ants. Pest managers will charge a fee for their service and we recommend you obtain a quote before proceeding. Prices charged by pest managers will vary.
- Engage the program to treat your property
If you cannot or do not wish to treat the fire ants yourself, the program’s treatment team will determine the best strategy and will treat your property at no cost to you. There may be a waiting period to access treatment by the program, as treatment is prioritised based on public need and risk. Go to Treatment of fire ant nests for more information on how the program treats properties.
- Do it yourself
Residents can purchase fire ant bait and treat the nests themselves. There are a number of baits available on the market, including through local retailers, pest chemical suppliers and online retailers. Some retailers may deliver products directly to your home. Search online for ‘fire ant bait’. It is important to follow the instructions on the label.
If you opt to engage a pest manager or purchase bait and treat fire ants yourself, please contact the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program on 13 25 23, quote your report number (‘ANT-number’) and provide details of how you have treated the ants.
If you opt to purchase bait and treat fire ants yourself (option 1) or engage a pest manager (option 2), please contact the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program on 13 25 23, quote your report number (‘ANT-number’) and provide details of how you have treated the ants.
Contact the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program on 13 25 23 for more information on how to check, report and treat fire ants.
In this guide:
- Top 5 places to check for fire ants
- Living in fire ant biosecurity zones
- Fire ant biosecurity zones suburbs list
- Fire ant eradication and suppression treatment
- Aerial fire ant treatment
- Treatment of fire ants by the program
- Treatment of fire ants at home
- Fire ant treatment frequently asked questions
- Training and education about fire ants
- Fire ant biology and ecology