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.

The information collected during our surveillance activities help us assess the success of our eradication treatment and respond to nests found outside our operational boundary faster.

Most of our surveillance activities are conducted during the cooler months. This is when fire ants tend to build their nests higher, making them easier to spot.

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

We complete these activities using trained field officers, odour detection dogs and helicopters using specialist technology.

Our officers visually check the ground and ideal habitats for fire ants.

Our dogs are trained to detect the ant’s scent and our use of these dogs is a world first. The dogs can find nests not visible to the human eye and can detect the foraging pheromone from up to 30m away.

Clearance surveillance

Clearance surveillance activities will be conducted on targeted sites within the eradication and containment areas. The aim of this activity is to detect any remaining infestation and to evaluate the effectiveness of our eradication treatment.

We will conduct a majority of this work by air using world-first technology.

Aerial surveillance

We use new and improved remote sensing technology to help us look for fire ants in South East Queensland.

This technology, which consists of multispectral cameras mounted to a helicopter, scans the landscape for fire ant nests. It is not used anywhere else in the world.

Our helicopters fly at an altitude of 750 feet (230m).

During our remote sensing fights, we capture long and shortwave infrared and near-infrared images, and standard imagery from the visual spectrum (red, green, blue). The combination of these image types allows us to capture important details that cannot be seen with the naked eye alone, including the heat signature of fire ant nests.

We then analyse the images using an artificial intelligence algorithm to determine what could be a fire ant nest that is then validated by our teams.

Identifying small points in a large and complex image is difficult, and the AI sometimes provides ‘false positive’ results. These results are important as they will help us improve our surveillance methods and provide us with confidence that an area is free of fire ants.

The National Fire Ant Eradication Program (through the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries) is collecting data as part of a biosecurity surveillance program to identify the location of fire ant nests as authorised under Section 294 of the Biosecurity Act 2014. The information is collected by Outline Global on behalf of the department and is used to direct and monitor fire ant management and eradication activities only.

It is not intended that any personal information will be collected from this surveillance however, any personal information inadvertently captured through surveillance will be redacted from any footage.  All information will only be used or disclosed for the detection and management of the fire ant program unless otherwise authorised or required by law. For further privacy information go to:

What to know which areas we're targeting in 2022—23 with aerial surveillance?

Outbreak control

Women in hi vis conducting fire ant surveillance activities

Outbreak control surveillance will be conducted in response to infestation found in our eradication area, within our containment area and outside our operational area.

Our odour detection dogs and their handlers will also assist in outbreak surveillance where a higher level of sensitivity is required.

We will also conduct responsive outbreak surveillance to new detections in the containment and eradication areas, and outside the containment area.

Post-treatment validation


Post-treatment validation surveillance is conducted to determine if the treatment of previously infested sites has been successful.

This activity is mostly conducted by our odour detection dogs and their handlers.

The priorities for the odour detection dog teams will be to check for signs of fire ants on treated sites in our eradication and containment areas