29 June, 2024

Fire Ants and you

You may have seen in the news recently that Fire Ants have been discovered at the suburb of Nirimba, on the Sunshine Coast. The nests have been found in a new development site.

Fire Ants and you - feature photo

It’s not surprising as there are machines, equipment, vehicles, building materials, soil, turf and plants coming in from all over, including the localities where Fire Ants are currently found.

Over the last 12 months, nests have been found at Narangba, Burpengary, Morayfield and 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.

All levels of government have a big role to play in stopping these pests, 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 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 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.

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 fearing going outside.”


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