Cleaning machinery

Cleaning machinery to reduce the risk of spreading fire ants

red tractor, pressure washer, cleaning machinery for fire ants

Many South East Queensland plant and equipment operators are taking the steps required to ensure they don’t move fire ants. You can play your part, by cleaning all gear before it is moved between worksites or properties.

Fire ants can have devastating consequences on our environment, economy, human health and outdoor way of life.

They can:

✖ attack our kids, pets and livestock
✖ destroy crops and damage the economy
✖ threaten our outdoor way of life by making backyards and parks unusable.

Under the Biosecurity Act 2014, fire ants are a category 1 restricted matter, making the pest a responsibility for all Queenslanders.

Fire ants are aggressive and will swarm when disturbed. 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.

Why is it important to clean plant and equipment?

Fire ants are highly mobile and adaptive. A fire ant queen can fly up to 5 km, raft on water following floods and wet weather events and hitch a ride in organic materials.

Human-assisted movement is considered the greatest risk of spread. 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 South East Queensland, at home or at work, need to ensure they effectively clean their gear immediately prior to it being moved to a new location. Penalties can apply to individuals or companies who fail to do so.

What do I need to do?

Before moving your plant and equipment, you should:

1. Check for fire ants

Before cleaning, it is important to check all plant and equipment closely to ensure is not carrying fire ants. If on inspection you do find suspect ants, you must not move the gear and report the ants to us online at or call 13 25 23.

2. Clean equipment

Remove all traces of soil, hay, turf, potted plants or processed materials from your plant and equipment by:

✔ scraping or blowing
✔ brushing down
✔ washing down
✔ steam cleaning
✔ air-blasting using an air compressor.

Don’t spread fire ants

Do you produce, store or move soil, hay, mulch, manure, quarry materials, turf or potted plant?

Fire ant biosecurity zones and restrictions apply. Visit for more information.

Last updated: August 2022