Cr Steve Jones
Cr Steve Jones Rob Williams

Fears over fire ant program

THE Lockyer Valley mayor has accused the State Government of "playing Russian roulette with the Lockyer Valley".

Cr Steve Jones said changes to the fire ant program were putting the region at risk.

"As mayor, I will do whatever it takes to fight for the reinstatement of funding to the program and I expect nothing less from local MP Ian Rickuss," he said. "Fire Ants are a serious environmental and agricultural problem causing damage to seeds, seedlings and fruit and have been known to cause the deaths of newborn and young livestock and in some cases have rendered animals blind.

"By slashing millions of dollars in funding and axing 45 positions in the fire ant program, the State Government is playing Russian roulette with the Lockyer Valley.

"I will not sit idly by and watch the region be destroyed by fire ants."

However, Lockyer MP Ian Rickuss he is pleased with the progress of the program, stating changes to the program were for the better.

"The fire ant program hasn't been scaled back at all," he said. "It's morphing into a different form of management."

He said he happy with the way the fight against fire ants was being run.

He said the use of helicopters equipped with heat detecting cameras and introduction of dog squads was helping the hunt for fire ants.

"When people find nests now it's a single nest not a mass of them," he said.

"Recently they found one nest at Mulgowie, one at Grandchester, one at Hatton Vale and one at Forest Hill.

"When they were first finding fire ants they were discovering dozens and dozens of nests."

Despite his confidence with the progress Mr Rickuss said the fight against fire ants was not a quick fix.

"This isn't a short-term project; we're going to have to be doing this for years to come.

"I am pleased to have the Lockyer Valley Regional Council's support in needing to be vigilant in relation to fire ants."

The Lockyer Valley has been a fire ant hotspot recently with a nest discovered at Hatton Vale mid year and Forest Hill earlier this month.

What to look for

  • Fire ants are small, only 2-6mm in length.
  • The head and body are coppery-brown, while the abdomen is a darker colour.
  • There aggressive, particularly near their nest and inflict a painful sting
  • The nests have no obvious entry or exit holes.
  • The nests often appear as dome-shaped mounds, up to 40cm high.
  • If you see fire ants or a nest phone Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

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