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Fire ants

Fire ant treatment frequently asked questions

The National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Programundertakes a baiting program for fire ants on targeted properties. This webpage answers the most common questions about the bait used in eradication treatment..

What chemicals are used in the fire ant baits?

Fire ant bait is made up of small pieces of corn grit soaked in soy bean oil. The program uses a range of baits, dependant on the treatment area, nest type and location.

All fire ant baits are infused with either an insect growth regulator (IGR) containing S-methoprene or pyriproxyfen, or a fast-acting insecticide bait containing indoxacarb.

All products are not harmful to humans or most animals and are widely used in mosquito control programs and flea collars

How does the bait treatment work?

The bait is thinly distributed across backyards and garden areas as well as parklands and paddocks. Any foraging fire ants in the vicinity collect the bait and take it back to the nest.

On consumption of the bait, the active ingredient/s are circulated around the colony, leading to the death of the worker ants, larvae and queens.

The IGR bait leads to the sterilisation of the queen ant and the nest naturally dies out in approximately 3–4 months. The fast-acting bait results in a noticeable reduction in nest activity in 1─4 weeks and nest death soon after.

How much of each chemical is used?

On an average suburban residential block (approximately 500 m2) about 100 grams of IGR bait will be used in each treatment. As the corn grits consist of 0.5% (half a gram) of active ingredient, minimal insecticide is distributed. For fast-acting bait, about 85 grams of bait will be used in each treatment. As the corn grits in this bait consists of 0.045% insecticide (less than one gram), minimal active ingredient is distributed.

How safe are these chemicals?

The bait treatment is not harmful to humans or most animals, as it is specifically targeted at fire ants. After the baits are distributed, any impact is short lived as they break down in a matter of days.

All baits are used according to the conditions prescribed on the relevant product labels and permits from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA; an Australian Government regulatory body) to ensure safety to humans, animals and the environment.

Do I need to take any precautions after my property has been treated?

For treatment to have the best chance of success, it is critical that you do not water, mow or disturb your lawn, gardens or paddocks for at least 24 hours, preferably 48 hours, to allow for foraging fire ants to collect the bait.

Be aware of restrictions which apply to the movement of materials that could carry fire ants such as soil, mulch, animal manures, baled hay or straw, potted plants and turf. Before moving materials that may carry fire ants, please check our website for more details on movement controls at daf.qld.gov.au/fireants

How is the bait distributed?

There are three main methods of distributing the bait, by:

  • foot - with a hand held spreader
  • all-terrain vehicle (ATV) or quad bike
  • air - using a helicopter.

The method of bait distribution varies depending on the size of each property and accessibility. Officers use hand held spreaders on residential blocks and ATVs are used on larger properties. Large acreage properties are planned for aerial treatment as it can deliver broad scale treatment over large areas in an accurate, timely and cost efficient manner.

Do I need to take any precautions after my property has been treated?

For treatment to have the best chance of success, it is critical that you do not water, mow or disturb your lawn, gardens or paddocks for at least 24 hours, preferably 48 hours, to allow for foraging fire ants to collect the bait.

Also be aware that restrictions apply to the movement of materials that could carry fire ants such as soil, mulch, animal manures, baled hay or straw, potted plants and turf.

Before moving materials that could carry fire ants, please visit our fire ant movement controls page.

How regularly is this treatment required?

Properties within the targeted treatment area are required to be treated multiple times between September and June. Bait treatment is only conducted during the warmer months when the ants are actively foraging for food.

Repeated rounds of bait treatment will lead to the eradication of fire ants in your area. How much does treatment cost?

There is no cost to you when we deliver eradication treatment on your property or site

Who will enter my property?

Only authorised National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program officers will enter your property or site. They are easily identified by their uniform and identification badges. Their vehicles have signs identifying them as ‘National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program’ and/or ‘Fire ant program’.

Can I refuse entry to my property for treatment?

Under Section 261 the Biosecurity Act 2014, program officers have the power to enter your property to conduct treatment and surveillance activities for fire ants. This is because of the significant threat fire ants pose to biosecurity.

Entry onto all properties for treatment and surveillance is therefore essential in eradicating fire ants and a resident cannot refuse access.

Under the Act, a person must not obstruct an officer exercising these powers of entry, or penalties will apply.

Why does my property require treatment if I don't have fire ants?

Fire ants can be present even if they are not visible.

The program’s 10-year Eradication Plan involves an intensive and targeted treatment being delivered over a large area of South East Queensland, spanning from Lockyer Valley in the west to Redlands in the east, north to Moreton and south to the Gold Coast.

The delivery of the rolling strategy, designed by some of the world’s best scientific minds, is the best chance we have of eradicating fire ants from South East Queensland once and for all.

Does the treatment affect native ants as well?

Fire ant treatment has the potential to affect a narrow group of native ants, however, scientific research indicates there are minimal adverse effects on native ant populations in areas where bait treatments have previously occurred.

Program scientists are continuing this research by monitoring the potential non-target impacts of its broadscale bait treatments.

The presence of fire ants, especially in high densities, has a more detrimental effect on ant populations than the treatment itself.

Report fire ants

If you see any ants or mounds that you think may be fire ants, use your mobile device to take a photo and report online or call 13 25 23.

In this guide:

  1. Top 5 places to check for fire ants
  2. Living in fire ant biosecurity zones
  3. Fire ant biosecurity zones suburbs list
  4. Fire ant eradication treatment
  5. Aerial fire ant treatment
  6. Treatment of fire ants by the program
  7. Treatment of fire ants at home
  8. Fire ant treatment frequently asked questions
  9. Training and education about fire ants
  10. Fire ant biology and ecology

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