With fire ants spreading out of control and re-infesting areas that have been treated for years, Biosecurity Queensland is dumping the costs and risks of treating fire ant nests onto the public. Have they thought this through? Will members of the public pay around $100 for 500g of bait or resort to ineffective or dangerous home remedies like mowing over nests, pouring boiling or soapy water into nests, or worse, pouring petrol into nests? If members of the public get badly stung treating a fire ant nest, will Biosecurity Queensland compensate them for doing its job? Biosecurity Queensland relies on the public to report new infestations. Why would members of the public report fire ant nests they have treated for themselves? But Biosecurity Queensland has no problem keeping the whole $42m of federal money it receives each year to find and kill fire ants and to stop them spreading. On the other hand, the program’s chief scientist, Ross Wylie, told the Beaudesert Times on 6th February 2020 that recent wet weather made it easier for members of the public to see fire ant nests as they build their nest higher in the wet. But he advised them NOT TO TREAT THEM NOW because young queens are flying out of nests to establish new nests 2-5km away from their home nest and fire ant colonies were floating out of flooded nests to establish new nests on dry ground. The right hand does not know what the left hand is doing in Biosecurity Queensland’s disastrous, chaotic and horrendously expensive National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program. Time for a Royal Commission. 9th February 2020
As fire ants spread out of control and continue to re-infest parts of south-east Queensland that have been infested and treated for years, Biosecurity Queensland throws up its hands and dumps the cost and risks of treating fire ants onto the public. Nevertheless, Biosecurity Queensland keeps all of the $42m the Commonwealth and other state and territory governments pay them each year to find and kill fire ants and to stop them spreading,
Biosecurity Queensland says on its website:
“The National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program offers an option for South-East Queenslanders to self-manage fire ants.
If you cannot or do not want to wait for free treatment by the program you can:
A number of fire ant baits are available at local …. .stores….and…. suppliers. The program does not endorse or recommend any particular product(s) or provide advice on their use or effectiveness.”
Has Biosecurity Queensland thought this through?
Are Queenslanders likely to pay around $100 for 500g for bait containing an insect growth regulator, as recommended by international experts, or will they resort to ineffective or dangerous home remedies? If Queenslanders get stung doing Biosecurity Queensland’s job, will they be compensated? Will Queenslanders report nests they have treated themselves? If not, Biosecurity Queensland won’t know how and where fire ants are spreading.
Fire ant baits containing an insect growth regulating chemical, as recommended by international experts, are expensive. They cost around $100 for 500g of product. Is the public willing to pay that much or will they resort to one of the many free or cheap home-remedies on the internet that can do more harm than good?
Running a lawn mower over fire ant nests only make them relocate. Pouring soft drink, or vinegar or baking soda or coffee grounds into nests just doesn’t work. Pouring boiling or soapy water over mounds can kill the ants it comes into direct contact with, but not kill the nest. And handing boiling water is hazardous. Even more hazardous is pouring petrol, kerosene, battery acid, chlorine or ammonia over nests. Those products might kill ants that come into immediate contact with them, but not kill the nest. And they are extremely dangerous for the operator or any person or animal nearby, they poison the soil and pollute waterways.
Even attempting to treat a fire ant nest is hazardous. Dozens of fire ants will aggressively swarm anything or anyone that just approaches their nest and sting them repeatedly with burning stings. Will Biosecurity Queensland compensate Queenslanders who get stung for doing the job they are paid to do?
Biosecurity Queensland relies on the public to report infestations of fire ants. 70%-80% of new detections have been made by the public – many of these are routinely found beyond the current bounds of the program’s operations. If Queenslanders do not report nests they treat themselves, and why would they, Biosecurity Queensland will not know where fire ants are spreading.
On the other hand, program chief scientist Ross Wylie told the Beaudesert Times on 6th February 2020, that recent wet weather made it easier for residents to see fire ant nests on their properties as the ants build their nests higher in the wet, but said DO NOT TREAT THEM NOW!
Because, he said, right now, hundreds of young fire ant queens are flying out of nests to establish new nests two to five kilometres away from their home nest and fire ants are escaping flooded nests by linking their bodies to form rafts with the queen and the larvae on board to float away until they come to dry ground where they can nest again.
The right hand does not know what the left hand is doing in Biosecurity Queensland’s disastrous, chaotic and horrendously expensive National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program. Time for a Royal Commission.