Fire ants are now infesting parks in the suburb of East Brisbane: putting the safety of young children at risk. Fire ants have been found in heritage listed Mowbray Park, on the bank of the Brisbane River, and in nearby Real Park. Both parks have picnic areas and children’s playgrounds: particularly attractive places for fire ants to nests. Dozens of fire ants will swarm anything that stumbles across their well disguised nests and inflict multiple firey stings. Young children and older people who might not be quick enough to avoid the swarm are particularly at risk. Biosecurity Queensland is putting the safety of East Brisbane residents and visitors at risk because it cannot kill fire ants or stop them spreading. Biosecurity Queensland has wasted $400m of public money. Fire ants now infest nearly 300 suburbs in south east Queensland, ten time worse than at the beginning, and they are still spreading. The Australian Agricultural Ministers Council will meet soon to decide the future of the fire ant program. For the sake of all of Australians we have to hope the Ministers decide to keep running a fire ant program. But the Ministers will be throwing more good public money after bad if Biosecurity Queensland runs any future fire ant program. 23rd June 2017-06-23 Photo courtesy Robert Maxwell, East Brisbane resident.
Fire ants are now infesting parks in the suburb of East Brisbane: in heritage listed Mowbray Park, on the bank of the Brisbane River, and in nearby Real Park. Both parks have barbecue and picnic areas where families and friends can come together to relax and play grounds where children can run around and enjoy themselves. But picnics in the park and children in the playgrounds are now out of the question in these two East Brisbane parks.
Fire ants are a super-aggressive pest. If anyone slightly disturbs their nest, dozens of fire ants will swarm over the hapless person. And it hard to avoid stumbling onto fire ant nests because they don’t look like other ant nests. They don’t have a central opening; rather they look like innocent mounds of dirt. Small children or older people who can’t move quickly enough to avoid the swarming ants are particularly at risk. After latching onto their victim with their mandibles (jaws), the ants will simultaneously sting their poor victim repeatedly. The stings turn into itchy pustules that last for days. The pustules can become infected. People who are allergic to fire ant sting can go into anaphylactic shock. Some of those people can die.
Biosecurity Queensland is putting the safety of the residents and visitors to East Brisbane parks at risk of fire ant sting because it cannot kill fire ants or stop them spreading from suburbs that are already infested.
Young fire ant queens can fly 2-5km to establish a new nest. It is possible some flew into the parks in East Brisbane from fire ant infestations in the nearby suburbs of Norman Park and Coorparoo. Fire ants can nest almost anywhere, but they particularly like to nest in disturbed soil in gardens, parks, sporting fields, farmlands and building sites. Young fire ant queens would have found the parks in East Brisbane attractive nesting sites. If this is how fire ants got to East Brisbane parks, it is evidence that Biosecurity Queensland did not kill the infestations in Norman Park and Coorparoo.
Or, if the gardens and lawns in Mowbray and Real parks have recently been refreshed with top soil, mulch, compost, turf or potted plants, it is possible that fire ants arrived in loads of these fire ant friendly materials. If this is how fire ants came to infest these East Brisbane parks, it is evidence that Biosecurity Queensland is not applying movement controls to prevent businesses or residents from carelessly or accidentally moving fire ants many kilometres in fire-ant infested materials.
Fire ants now infest nearly 300 suburbs in south-east Queensland: from Redlands on the Bay, through Brisbane, Gold Coast, Logan and Ipswich cities and into the Lockyer Valley, the Scenic Rim and the Somerset area: and they are still spreading.
Biosecurity Queensland has spent $400m of public money over the past sixteen years but cannot kill fire ants or stop them spreading. The fire ant infestation in south-east Queensland is ten times bigger than in 2001 and getting worse.
The Australian Agricultural Ministers Council will meet in July to decide the future of the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program. For the sake of Queensland and the rest of Australia we have to hope the Ministers decide to continue to fund a fire ant program. But the Ministers will be throwing more good public money after bad if Biosecurity Queensland continues to run any future fire ant program.