Fire Ants and You

What they look like

You may have seen in the news recently that Fire Ants have been discovered at the suburb of Nirimba, which is in the Aura estate at Caloundra South.
As happened in 2017 when Fire Ants were discovered at Beerwah, the nests have been found in a new development site.
It’s not surprising as there are machines, equipment, vehicles, building materials, soil, turf and plants coming in from all over, including the localities in the north, south and west of Brisbane where Fire Ants are currently found.
The surprising thing for me would be if this is the only place they are to be found on the Sunshine Coast, given the amount of development happening and the volumes of materials and equipment moving back and forth from the infested areas.
The authorities say that they have the situation in hand at Nirimba. They have treated the nests with a safe and approved bait for urban areas and will be surveying and treating areas within a 5km radius.
Over the last 12 months, nests have been found just south of us at Narangba, Naranga East, Burpengary, Morayfield and Moodlu near Caboolture. All these sites are being actively controlled with the aim of eradication.
Without seeming alarmist, Fire Ants are probably the most serious threat to our way of life – other than climate system collapse or apocalyptic nuclear war.
They are super-ultra-aggressive and have stings which can be fatal to people, pets, stock and wildlife.
If they become widespread, any open space area – like a backyard, garden, park, sporting field, walking trail, or playground – will become impossible to use unless the area is completely and regularly baited to keep the area free of the ants.
Everywhere you go you’ll have to be worried if there will be Fire Ants and will they attack me / my family / my pets.
All levels of government – councils, state and federal – have a big role to play in stopping these pests from taking away our enjoyment of the outdoors.
But a bigger role to play is us … you, me, business, everyone.
Unless we all up our game and support the efforts that governments are making, it’s all over red rover.
If we want to stop Fire Ants, governments will need to up their game and make some hard and at times unpopular decisions, including committing a lot more money than they do now, which has to come from somewhere … and that somewhere is us through taxes.
In the United States, they spend billions upon billions of dollars a year just in control to keep public space areas free of Fire Ants for Americans to use.
In Australia, it’s estimated that right now, we need to be spending about $600 million a year to have any chance of effectively keeping them under control. Currently, the funding commitment from governments is less than $400 million … meaning that the authority tasked to do the work can’t employ enough people, buy enough bait, or do enough awareness to stop Fire Ants.
If more funding isn’t given and the ants spread unchecked, the cost to Australia from Fire Ants has been conservatively calculated at $2 billion a year – and that doesn’t include the devastating environmental losses, which are estimated to be greater than the impacts of cane toads, foxes and rabbits combined.
So, we all need to support whatever the Fire Ant management experts say we need to do.
Meaning we need to know what to do and not to do to make sure we’re not spreading Fire Ants. We need to know what to look out for so we can report any suspicious nests. We need to allow the National Fire Ant Eradication Program staff to do their jobs and we need to help wherever we can.
And we need to tell our elected representatives that they need to do more and support the National Fire Ant Eradication Program with at least enough money to do their jobs properly.
If we don’t make that commitment, our children and grandchildren will rightly say, “If you just did more to stop them when you could, we now wouldn’t be living in fear of going outside.”