Responsive fire ant nest treatment
Thousands of South East Queenslanders are playing their part in the fight against fire ants. You can do the same by regularly looking for, reporting and treating your property for fire ants.
Fire ants can have devastating consequences on our environment, economy and outdoor way of life. They also pose a serious threat to humans. At best, their stings can be painful; at worst, they can trigger a toxic, sometimes life-threatening, allergic reaction.
We are tasked with eradicating fire ants using a staged, rolling treatment strategy starting in the west of the infestation. In high-risk situations, we will also treat fire ant nests in other areas. Priority is given to reports of suspect ants in areas of greatest public risk, such as schools, childcare centres, parks and sports fields.
We use two different fire ant nest treatments, both approved by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) — fire ant bait and direct nest injection. Both treatments have different purposes, application methods and results.
Fire ant bait
Bait treatment is lightly scattered across backyards and garden areas as well as parklands and paddocks, by helicopter, utility terrain vehicle and/or hand spreader.
Fire ants collect the bait and take it back to the nest. The active ingredient/s are passed around the colony, leading to the death of the worker ants, larvae and queens. Multiple treatments may need to destroy all nests. Fire ant bait is safe for the environment, humans and pets.
Type of bait
Typically found in
Fast-acting bait (used to treat the immediate area around nests)
Contains indoxacarb or a combination of hydramethylon and pyriproxyfen
Cockroach baits / dog and cat flea collars
Reduction in nest activity in 1–4 weeks, and nest death soon after
Slow-acting insect growth regulator (IGR) to make the queen infertile (used to treat the rest of the property)
Contain S-methoprene or pyriproxyfen
Mosquito control / dog and cat flea collars
Nest naturally dies out in 3–4 months
It is made of small pieces of corn grit soaked in soy bean oil and an active ingredient. The active ingredients are the same as those found in household pest control products such as cockroach baits, mosquito control products, and flea collars for pets.
On an average residential block (approximately 500 m2) up to 100 grams of bait will be used in each treatment. The corn grit has only 0.045% (fast-acting bait) and 0.5% (slow-acting bait) active ingredient, meaning very small amounts of insecticide is used.
Direct nest injection
Direct nest injection involves flooding fire ant nests and tunnels with an approved insecticide. Fipronil is the only product approved for this treatment style for fire ants and is often used to control termites. It is effective at very low application rates—25 mL to 100 L water—and only licensed pest managers are allowed to use it for fire ants.
Direct nest injection is most often used to treat fire ant nests that need to be destroyed quickly because there is a risk to public or animal safety.
Fipronil is odourless and affects ants immediately, with most ants dying within several days.
Can I treat fire ants?
Under the Biosecurity Act 2014, fire ants are a category 1 restricted matter, making the pest a responsibility for all Queenslanders.
You are encouraged and able to reduce the impacts fire ants have on your lifestyle until our planned eradication treatment reaches your neighbourhood.
- Check your property for fire ant nests
Look for ant nests that appear as mounds or flat patches of loose soil with no obvious entry or exit holes. Fire ants are coppery brown with a darker abdomen. They are small and range in size from 2–6mm.
- Report suspect ants
You are legally required to report any fire ants to us within 24 hours of seeing them. You can do this online at fireants.org.au or call 13 25 23.
- Treat fire ants
✔ Purchase and use fire ant bait
Residents can buy fire ant bait from local and online retailers and treat the nests themselves. There are a number of baits available on the market. A list is available on our website at fireants.org.au.
✔ Hire a pest manager to treat for you
We have trained many pest managers to treat fire ants safely and effectively using bait and by direct nest injection with liquid insecticide.
If your property is treated for fire ants, it is critical that you do not water, mow or disturb your lawn, gardens or paddocks for 48 hours. This gives fire ants time to collect the bait or liquid insecticide.
Don’t spread fire ants
Be aware, restrictions apply to the movement of materials that could carry fire ants such as soil, mulch, animal manures, baled hay or straw, potted plants and turf. It is critical that we prevent fire ants from moving back into an area that has already been treated. Visit our website at fireants.org.au for more information.