Looking for fire ants

Checking your property or workplace for fire ants

women, gum boots, stick, pot plant, grass, garden bed, looking for fire ants

Thousands of Queensland residents and business operators are playing an important role in controlling the spread of fire ants. You can do the same by checking your property or workplace for signs of the pest and reporting them to us.

Fire ants may be small, but they can have devastating consequences on our environment, economy, human health and outdoor way of life. They can destroy crops, damage machinery, kill native flora and fauna and render backyards and parks unusable. In rare cases, fire ant stings can also lead to a severe and sometimes fatal reaction in humans.

If we don’t work together and stop them, fire ants could infest all of Australia — costing billions of dollars per year.

We need your help to:

Look and report — Learn what a fire ant and its nest look like, check your property for signs of the pest and report them to us online at fireants.org.au or call 13 25 23.

Stop the spread — If you live in the fire ant biosecurity zones and work with materials that can carry fire ants, follow the rules.

Fire ants and their nests

Unlike other ants, fire ants are aggressive and will swam when disturbed. They are also smaller and look a little different than you might think.

Their distinguishing features are:

✔ copper brown in colour with a darker abdomen
✔ measure 2–6mm in size
✔ come in a variety of sizes in the one nest.

Fire ant nests can appear as mounds or flat patches of loose sifted soil with no obvious or exit holes. They are commonly found in warm, open areas such as:

✔ Lawns
✔ Footpaths and driveways
✔ Garden beds and piles of organic matter
✔ Near water sources, including taps, dams and irrigation lines
✔ Utility pits
✔ Edges of cultivated land
✔ Cropland post-harvest
✔ Fence lines

When looking for fire ants, ensure you wear appropriate personal protective equipment, such as boots and gloves. If you find a suspect ant or nest, use a long stick and gently prod the nest, and inspect any ants present.

Don’t spread fire ants

Fire ants are highly mobile and adaptive. A fire ant queen can fly up to 5 km to start a new nest and raft on water following floods and wet weather events.

The greatest risk to spread however, is human-assisted movement. The pest likes to nest in soil, baled hay, mulch, manure, quarry products, turf and potted plants.

This is why people working with these materials in Queensland, at home or at work, should follow the fire ant biosecurity zones and movement restrictions in the Biosecurity Regulation 2016.

Penalties can apply to individuals or companies found to move the pest.

Moving a single fire ant queen is all it takes to spread fire ants.

Visit fireants.org.au to find out more.


We offer free online training for anyone wanting to learn more about fire ants and how to treat

them correctly.

Visit fireants.org.au to register.

Last updated: February 2022