Drastic fire ant efforts critical

Farmers are calling for a major effort to stamp out fire ants in NSW after the insidious pests were discovered near Ballina.
According to the NSW Government, the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) detected a Red Imported Fire Ant nest at Wardell, south of Ballina on Friday.
In a statement to media, the government said an incident response team from the National Fire Ant Eradication Program and NSW DPI teams were at the site to gather further information about the nest and destroy the nest with liquid insecticide, and would investigate when the ants arrived and how they got there.
NSW Farmers President Xavier Martin said it was another significant breach of the state’s biosecurity controls and called on the government to immediately ramp up control and eradication efforts.
“This latest outbreak is a stark reminder of the failure to control and eradicate these insidious pests, the entry of Red Imported Fire Ants into NSW last year demonstrated again the urgent need for increased investment by all governments to support biosecurity,” Mr Martin said. 
“NSW Farmers has called for greater focus on biosecurity for many years, but we’ve seen a failure at our borders and with the Queensland Government failing to take this problem seriously, we are now facing the spread of an incredibly dangerous pest into our state.
“Red Imported Fire Ants are a threat to agricultural production and to the landscape of NSW – they can damage agricultural equipment, sting livestock, ruin the natural environment, and pose a serious risk to the health and wellbeing of all people in NSW.”
Mr Martin said while a rapid response to the Murwillumbah incursion had been encouraging, it was now clear more had to be done.
“We are calling on Premier Chris Minns and Agriculture Minister Tara Moriarty to ensure the NSW Department of Primary Industries has every resource it needs to stamp out these ants quickly and decisively,” Mr Martin said.
“It’s critical DPI, with the full support of other critical agencies, can act quickly to eradicate these pests as they did at Port Botany in 2014.
“Red Imported Fire Ants should have been eradicated 20 years ago but successive Queensland governments have failed to act effectively; NSW must step up and show strong leadership on this issue.”
People in the Northern Rivers were encouraged to continue vigilance and report suspected fire ant sites to the NSW Biosecurity Hotline at 1800 680 244 or online at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fire-ants.  
Fire ants are tiny (2-6mm long) and reddish-brown in colour, are aggressive when disturbed and will sting repeatedly, causing the sensation the victim is on fire. Nests are mounds or flattish patches of soil with no obvious entrance holes, and up to 40cm high.  



Date: Saturday, January 20, 2024
Media Contact: Steve Mudd  | 0429 011 690 | [email protected]