Hundreds and hundreds of fire ant nests on the edges of the fire ant infestation that covers more than 400,000ha of south-east Queensland are poised to spread the infestation even further. Fire ants are out of control because Biosecurity Queensland cannot kill them or stop them spreading. In July, the Australian Agriculture Ministers Council will meet to consider the future of the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program. We have to hope the Ministers of all States and Territories and the Commonwealth agree to continue to fund a program to rid Australia of this super-pest. But if Biosecurity Queensland continues to mis-manage the program, the Agriculture Ministers will throwing be more good public money after the $400m of public money that Biosecurity Queensland has, to a large extent, wasted so far. 3rd May 2017 Updates 6th May 2017. Fire ants are again infesting the suburb of St Lucia because Biosecurity Queensland did not clear the fire ant infestation that was found there at the University of Queensland in 2015. Fire ants are now moving into the previously fire-ant free suburbs of Holland Park West and Fairfield: suburbs that border infested suburbs, because Biosecurity Queensland cannot stop fire ants from spreading.
There are now over 300 nests in a site in Forest Hill, on the western edge of the fire ant infestation, well into the farm-lands of the Lockyer Valley Council area and close to the town of Gatton. There are 200 nests in a new housing development in Pimpama, on the south-eastern edge of the infestation in the Gold Coast City Council area. There is a site in Yatala in the Gold Coast City Council area with 65 nests. There are over 400 nests at a site in Peak Crossing in the Scenic Rim Regional Council Area and on the south-western edge of the fire ant infestation
These new detections, beyond the bounds of the Fire Ant Biosecurity Zones are just the latest. Fire ants have always been spreading at a steady rate regardless of anything Biosecurity Queensland has done. In December 2012, there were 205 suburbs infested with fire ants. By October 2013, that was up to 215. By August 2015, 259 suburbs were infested with fire ants and by July 2016, 280 suburbs were infested.
Biosecurity Queensland has been claiming that the apparent low density of the infestation in south-east Queensland is evidence of it success in suppressing the incursion. Sites with hundreds of nests show that this claim is a nonsense. Biosecurity Queensland has known this since at least 2008 when modelling showed that the apparent low density of the infestation masked the fact of its continuous spread.
Biosecurity Queensland cannot stop fire ants from spreading into previously fire-ant-free areas. During 2016, in the Lockyer Valley Regional area, fire ants were found in Kensington Grove, close to the infestation at Forest Hill, and a site with over 100 nests was found at Laidley Creek West. Fire ants were found beyond the northern bounds of the infestation in Pine Mountain in the Ipswich City Council area. Fire ants were found in Bracken Ridge in the Brisbane City Council area, well beyond the northern bounds of the infestation and nudging the Moreton Bay Council Area,
It is clear that Biosecurity Queensland cannot kill fire ants because the suburbs in centre of the infestation, that have been infested for years and treated numerous times, remain infested. In April 2017, a site in Wacol in the Brisbane City Council area was found with 65 nests. A site in Greenbank, in the Logan City Council area, was found with more than 300 nests. But in the Ipswich City Council area, a site in Purga has over 100 nests, a site in Willowbank has 67 nests. And most worryingly is a site in Springfield Lakes that continues to become re-invested after multiple treatments and a site in the nearby suburb of Brookwater has over 120 nests. But this is nothing new. A science review way back in 2006 saw that fire ants were re-infesting areas that had been fully treated because Biosecurity Queensland treatment program does not work.
Due to Biosecurity Queensland’s incompetence, fire ants now infest an area of over 400,000ha and 280 suburbs, ten times more than when the program began in 2002. Biosecurity Queensland’s claim that only 1% of the over 400,000ha covered by Fire Ant Biosecurity Zone Map is actually infested is also a nonsense. Biosecurity Queensland’s own definition of a biosecurity zone is an area that is ‘infested or likely to be infested’. Biosecurity Queensland includes whole suburbs in the Biosecurity Zone map so that it can apply inconvenient and potentially costly movement controls to ALL residents and businesses within the suburbs: not just to those in some undefined and undisclosed 1% of the Fire Ant Biosecurity Zones.
In July, the Australian Agriculture Ministers Council will meet to consider the future of the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program. We have to hope that Ministers of all States and Territories and the Commonwealth agree to continue to fund a program to rid Australia of this super-pest. But if Biosecurity Queensland continues to mis-manage the program, the Agriculture Ministers will throwing be more good public money after the $400m of public money that Biosecurity Queensland has, to a large extent, wasted so far.