Checking for fire ant nests is a key part of our eradication plan.

Fire ant surveillance dog

Our surveillance activities aim to monitor, contain, and reduce the spread of fire ants in South East Queensland.

We conduct surveillance using trained field officers and odour detection dog teams. Our use of these dogs is a world first.

Our officers visually check the ground and ideal habitats for fire ants, while our dogs are trained to detect the ant’s scent. The dogs can find nests not visible to the human eye and can detect the foraging pheromone from up to 30m away.

We also look for fire ant nests using helicopters equipped with remote sensing technology.

We conduct 3 types of surveillance to help determine the presence or absence of fire ants:

Sentinel surveillance

Our sentinel surveillance provides early detection of fire ant spreads outside and close to the borders of the current infestation area.

The location of these sites will be set and monitored by our science team to closely monitor the presence or absence of fire ants in ideal fire ant habitat. The sites will be placed approximately 2km apart and:

  • up to 2km inside and outside of the northern and western edges of the infestation area
  • up to 2km inside and up to 5km outside the southern edge of the infestation area
  • in and around waste facilities and turf farms
  • on terrain that has been disturbed in the last 3 years
  • at sites identified through waterway flow direction and flood height mapping analysis
  • on terrain that is favourable to fire ants (i.e. developments, cultivated land, roadside developments, waterway, commercial and industrial properties)
  • in locations accessible to field teams
  • in areas with less than 25% vegetation cover
  • within proximity of known fire ant nests.

Infestation found on a sentinel site will trigger immediate treatment, surveillance, and genetic tracing of both the site and surrounding area.

Find out what sentinel surveillance we will conduct this year.

Want to know where we are conducting sentinel surveillance this year?

Targeted surveillance

We use targeted surveillance to check that any fire ant nests found in areas close to, or outside the known detections, are not a spread risk.

Site selection is based on:

Clearance surveillance

Clearance surveillance activities will be conducted in previous eradication treatment areas and follow two aims and relevant methods:

  • Surveying the ‘riskiest’ areas to identify any remaining infestation.
  • Surveillance over the entire eradication area to give an indication of the effectiveness of eradication treatment.