Fire ants have the ability to spread naturally and through human-assisted movement.
Modelling shows that without suppressing, containing and destroying fire ants in a staged, rolling treatment strategy, fire ants would have spread far and wide.
Fire ants are highly mobile and can travel long distances (up to 5km), allowing them to build nests in new areas and spread rapidly.
Based on spread of 48 km per year, observed in Texas in 1957–67 (PDF), it is estimated that if it were not for the program’s work, fire ants could have spread west to Longreach, north to Bowen and south to Canberra by now.
Potential spread of fire ants map (PDF, 6.4MB)
Our extensive efforts to eradicate fire ants have slowed the pests’ spread through natural and human-assisted means to about 5 km per year, containing fire ants to an area of 600,000 hectares in South East Queensland.
We have also led or contributed to the eradication of other fire ant incursions in other parts of Australia.