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The fire ant threat in North Brisbane is getting worse, and we need to address the problem quickly to protect our health and the environment. Fire ants are risky for many reasons; they impact agriculture, infrastructure and local wildlife. Not to mention their bites can cause severe allergic reactions. 

I’m Keith Jacobs, and as a pest control Brisbane expert, I’ve seen the impact these tiny invaders are having on our community. We need to take action before these pests become an even bigger problem. Here’s what you need to know.

A Growing Threat

A Senate inquiry into fire ants has been holding public hearings this year in Brisbane, Newcastle, and Canberra and is looking at the expected costs and impacts of the ants on human health, agriculture, infrastructure, and the environment. So far, the inquiry has found what we already know - we need more extensive eradication programs!

Fire ants, particularly the Red Imported Fire Ant (RIFA), are notorious for their aggressive nature and painful stings, which can lead to serious health issues. Studies have found that around one-third of residents are stung annually in regions where fire ants are endemic, with a large number of those developing allergic reactions, ranging from hives to anaphylaxis.

Aside from the allergic reactions, fire ants are a drain on agriculture - damaging crops and livestock. They also impact infrastructure by displacing soil around structures.

Spread and Control 

While a lot is being done to control fire ants, there are always challenges, particularly here in North Brisbane. The ants were first detected in Brisbane 23 years ago. They spread quickly, and this was intensified by events like the 2022 floods – the ants moved to higher ground and found new areas to live. 

While Queensland has invested a lot, including a $1 billion eradication program, the spread continues. Essentially, these measures rely on how much the public pays attention and residents need to inspect their properties and use the bait kits provided. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, fire ants:

  • Are copper brown in colour with a darker abdomen,
  • Measure around 2 – 6 mm in size,
  • Are aggressive, particularly around the nest,
  • Have nests that look like dome-shaped mounds and can measure up to 40cm high.

If you have concerns about an infestation, call a professional pest control expert. If we want to protect our health and the environment, we need to tackle the fire ant problem as soon as possible.

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