Impacts

They may be small, but fire ants can do a lot of damage

Fire ants are a significant pest because they have the potential to cause serious social, economic, and environmental impacts.

Human health

  • Fire ants usually move quickly, allowing large numbers to move onto humans before they are detected.
  • Stings from fire ants can cause a painful, burning, itching sensation. Multiple stings give a sensation the body is on fire.
  • Small pustules may form several hours after stinging occurs and they can become itchy and infected.
  • In rare cases fire ant stings can lead to a severe and sometimes fatal allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.

Environmental

  • Fire ants have the potential to inhabit most of Australia’s coastal areas as far north as Tropical North Queensland.
  • They feed on fauna that nests or feeds on the ground, including insects, spiders, lizards, frogs, birds and mammals. They could displace or eliminate some native species.
  • They eat and damage seeds, possibly causing major ecosystem changes over time.

Economic

Fire ants have the potential to surpass the combined damage done each year by our worst pests: feral cats, wild dogs, foxes, camels, rabbits and cane toads.

  • Fire ant nests can be a serious problem in lawns, parks, sporting fields and other large expanses of greenspace.
  • They can damage sensitive electrical equipment.
  • They could affect export arrangements to countries free of fire ants.
  • They have been known to attack young animals and livestock, stinging around eyes, mouth and nose, leading to blindness and suffocation.
  • They can prevent animals from reaching food or water without being seriously stung, leading to starvation and dehydration.
  • They can damage and kill some plants by tunnelling through roots and stems.
  • Their mounds can destroy equipment, such as irrigation systems and damage machinery during harvesting operations

Social

  • They could restrict everyday activities such as picnics and sporting activities as backyards, parks, playgrounds, beaches and sports grounds are unusable.

It is important to report any suspect ants or nests you find