New fire ant nest found at Fisherman's Landing

A NEW fire ant nest has been found at Fisherman's Landing, 12 months after the first infestation was discovered in the area. 

But Biosecurity Queensland is confident the ants will be eradicated by the end of a four-year program.

About 30 companies in and around Fisherman's Landing have played a major part in continued surveillance of the area.

In 12 months, the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program - run by Biosecurity Queensland - has detected more than 80 colonies of fire ants in the infested area in Gladstone.

The area has been treated five times with granular bait, and earlier this week the eradication zone was increased to 4600ha after nests were found south of the zone in July.

Sniffer dogs detected the latest nest during a surveillance exercise on Wednesday.

The ants were badly bait affected, which stakeholder engagement manager Anthony Wright described as "very much the living dead".

He said when the nest was baited initially a number of foraging ants returned to reconstruct the nest.

"But they're all kind of drunk and wonky on their feet," he said.

"The important thing is there is no reproduction going on. There were no eggs, no flying queens."

Fire Ant Program science manager Dr Ross Wylie said he was happy with the progress of the program and confident of full eradication by June 2016.

"During our last fire ant surveillance activity in Gladstone we found the ants were still there, but were bait-affected, confirming our treatment is working," he said.

Through genetics, Dr Wylie found the fire ants had six generations that originated from two queens.

"The bait we use contains an insect growth regulator that sterilises the queen."

Fire ants are 2-6mm in size, coppery-brown with a dark abdomen, are aggressive and inflict a painful sting.

Fire Ant Eradication Program

In 12 months:

  • 109 public reports
  • 938 people trained
  • 119 people briefed
  • 30 companies now have approved risk management plans

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