Update on efforts to eradicate Red Imported Fire Ants

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DAFF

December 2012

Red Imported Fire Ant (RIFA) is one of the world’s most invasive pests which rapidly establishes in a wide range of environments, impacting natural fauna, agriculture, public infrastructure, human health and social amenity.

The RIFA National Management Group (NMG) met on 16 November 2012 and agreed to continue the eradication program for 2012-13 with a total budget of $16.933 million. The Program is funded through a national cost sharing arrangement involving all states/territories and the Commonwealth. NMG will review the eradication program again in the first half of 2013.

Eradication through treatment and surveillance, including, the use of odour detector dogs and remote sensing technology is underway. Enhanced community engagement has seen the detection of new RIFA nests in recent times. Movement controls, particularly of high risk materials such as soil and nursery stock, have reduced the risk of spread of the ant to new areas.

The discovery of the RIFA in two areas of Brisbane in February 2001 led to an emergency response and a detailed program to eradicate the fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) from Australia through a schedule of baiting of infested areas and destruction of nests. These activities were backed up by a comprehensive public relations and community engagement program. In 2010, fire ants were successfully eradicated from Yarwun, an area near Gladstone. This was the first time in the world that an established RIFA population has been eradicated. Evidence is currently being gathered to demonstrate successful eradiation of an infestation at the Port of Brisbane.

In 2001 the Standing Council of Agriculture and Resource Management implemented a five year eradication program. The program was managed by an oversight committee comprising members of all state and territory primary industry departments. In 2003 a RIFA NMG was established to provide policy advice for the program. 

The RIFA NMG is comprised of the Chief Executive Officers, or their delegates, of national and state/territory departments of agriculture/primary industries across Australia, and the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Representatives of Plant Health Australia attend as observers. The group is chaired by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Further information on RIFA can be found on the Queensland Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry website.

Under Queensland legislation, fire ants are a notifiable pest and suspected sightings must be reported to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

Further advice on Asian honeybees can be found on the Outbreak website and on the Queensland Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry website