Intensive pest bait plan will start this month

INTENSIVE fire ant bait treatment programs will start this month in Ipswich, Lockyer Valley and Scenic Rim after 10 nests were found at Lowood.

Up to 140 staff have been hired to tackle fire ants across the state as part of the $411.4 million decade-long eradication program expected to double the effort to neutralise the threat of red imported fire ants.

The discovery at Lowood last month was the first time the destructive ants had been found in the Somerset Regional Council area, and followed a positive case at Pine Mountain in April.

Somerset Residents Urged to Remain Vigilant After Fire Ants Found at Pine Mountain.
Somerset Residents Urged to Remain Vigilant After Fire Ants Found at Pine Mountain. Photo Contributed

Program director Geoff Kent said fire ant bait treatment involved the distribution of granulated bait over lawns, garden beds and other open areas either by foot, all-terrain vehicle or by helicopter.

>> Property owners called to task to help stop fire ants threat

"The bait treatment is not harmful to humans or animals as it is specifically targeted at fire ants," Mr Kent said.

"Residents will be notified when treatment has been undertaken, advising them of the importance not to water, mow or disturb their lawns and gardens for at least 48 hours.

"Program officers will also be in contact with the owners of farms and large acreage sites where aerial treatment by helicopter is to occur, in accordance with requirements."

Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne said the focus of the eradication program over the next 10 years was to reduce the size of the infestation in a staged approach, rolling out an eradication planned treatment program from west to east.

"Three rounds of bait treatment will be applied over a nine month period, with the bait treatment expected to commence this month," Minister Byrne said.

"This year, the program is expecting to treat more than 250,000 hectares, compared to almost 100,000 ha completed last year."

An additional funding of $411.4 million over 10 years was promised at the Agricultural Minister's Forum in July with Queensland's share being $43.2 million.

"The additional funding will not only increase the program's treatment and surveillance capacity, it will allow for more advanced, innovative techniques and tools to achieve greater efficiency in eradication efforts," Minister Byrne said.

"The program will continue to respond to public reports and destroy fire ant infestations when detected to reduce immediate risks to the public.

Minister Byrne said Australia was the closest any country had come to eradicating fire ants.

"This job will be challenging and cannot be done without the continued support of industry and the community to eradicate fire ants once and for all," he said.

Anyone who sees any suspect ants or nests, are encouraged to take a photograph and submit via the online report form at www.daf.qld.gov.au/fireants



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