Managing turf

Managing turf in a fire ant biosecurity zone

Turf, soil, gloves, tradesman

To prevent the spread of one of the world’s most invasive pests, risk mitigation controls must be used when managing turf in the fire ant biosecurity zones.

What do I need to do?

The Biosecurity Regulation 2016 (Regulation) outlines how turf must be managed in fire ant biosecurity zones. If you produce, store or purchase turf within a fire ant biosecurity zone, follow the risk mitigation controls outlined to prevent the spread of one of the world’s most invasive pests.

The absence of visible mounds of fire ants is not a reliable indication that turf is free of infestation. Fire ant queens can be transported in turf unless appropriate chemical treatment is applied before harvesting.

✔ If you are buying turf, ask the seller to provide you with information that shows the turf has been treated in line with the requirements.
✔ If you are farming turf, you must follow the methods outlined below:

Treatment of commercial turf

Commercial turf farms operating within fire ant biosecurity zones must treat turf with an appropriate chemical. The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) has approved the use of bifenthrin for the control of fire ants on commercial turf farms. Check the APVMA website for chemical concentrations

Insecticides must be used in accordance with the conditions of the APVMA permit, the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) and in conjunction with the product’s label.

Using bifenthrin

Bifenthrin is the preferred method of fire ant treatment for turf. One application of bifenthrin is to be applied and the turf must not be lifted for at least 48 hours after treatment. If treated turf is not harvested with 42 days, then re-treatment is required. The treated area should be irrigated immediately after the application of the chemical.


If turf will be stored for more than 24 hours, you must use one of the following storage options:

✔ off-ground and covered with an effective barrier that prevents ants from penetrating the material, or

✔ on-ground and covered, either on:
o concrete or bitumen (no cracks), or
o a barrier that cannot be penetrated by fire ants (e.g. 200 micron unperforated plastic sheeting), or
o compacted ground (other than sand) that has been treated with an appropriate chemical product before storage.

Chemical treatment must be applied around the perimeter of all on-ground storage options. This should be done by applying a 30 cm wide strip of insecticide containing bifenthrin. If turf is stored on compacted ground, the whole surface area must also be treated.

Check the APVMA website for suitable products and concentrations. If the processed materials are stored on compacted ground, the whole surface area must be treated.

It is important to keep the treated area free of material that could form an untreated bridge to the turf.


It is an offence to move a live fire ant from a property. You may move turf within, across or outside the fire ant biosecurity zones if you:

✔ follow the treatment and storage methods

✔ transport the material directly to a nearby waste facility by following these restrictions:
o material originating within zone 1 can be moved to a waste facility inside zone 1 or 2
o material originating inside zone 2 can be moved to a waste facility inside zone 2 only

✔ move the material anywhere if movement occurs within 24 hours of it arriving at the original place

You can also use our fire ant advice tool to find out what requirements apply to you.

If you are unable to fulfil these requirements and you want to move the material from the current site then you must apply for a biosecurity instrument permit (BIP) on our website or call 13 25 23.

Keeping a record

You should always keep a written record of the steps you take to ensure processed materials are stored and moved correctly, including chemical treatments applied and/or disturbance activities completed. These records should be kept for a minimum of two years.

More information

For more information or to complete our free fire ant training visit our website or call 13 25 23.

Last updated: August 2022