Everything You Need to Know About Fire Ants in Australia
There’s a number of dangerous and invasive pests in Australia, but fire ants are some of the most dreaded.
Below, we have summarized everything that you need to know about the fire ants in Australia.
They come from South America.
The red imported fire ant, Solenopsis Invicta, originates from South America, although they are now known to be found in Australia and New Zealand, along with some Caribbean and Asian countries.
This species was first discovered in Australia back in 2001 in Queensland.
Queens fly kilometres to start new colonies.
Fire ants can spread and start new colonies through a mated female, otherwise known as the queen fire ant.
The queen can fly for about 2 kilometres to find a suitable nesting site, where she might choose to rid herself of her wings and start a completely new colony.
Fire ants can be identified by their size and colour.
A fire ant is generally copper brown in colour, with the abdominal section coloured slightly darker than the rest of its body.
Its size can range from 2 to 6 millimetres, and most fire-ant nests will not show an obvious entry or exit area.
These nests, although often dome-shaped, can also be found under piles of materials or in an untended and overgrown area.
Their Latin name means invincible.
This species’ scientific name, Invicta, was derived from a Latin word which means ‘invincible.” Another origin of this word is the Roman phrase, “Roma Invicta,” which translates to ‘unconquered Rome.”
As for the fire ants’ genus name, Solenopsis, this word refers to “face” or “appearance” in ancient Greek. These ants are commonly known as the red imported fire ant, mainly due to the burning sensation from their stings.
They are one of the world’s most invasive pests.
With a reputation for being one of the most invasive pests in the world, fire ants can impact our daily lives.
For example, our outdoor activities can be hindered by burning stings from these ants. Reports of severe allergic reactions and even deaths from fire ant stings have also been reported.
Movement controls might prevent their spread.
To ensure that fire ants do not spread further than they already have, movement controls have been placed on items that could potentially carry fire ants.
Zones, where these ants could spread, are also declared as fire ant biosecurity zones as a containment measure.
Stings can be treated with ice, soap and water unless an allergy is present.
When stung by fire ants, one should apply an ice pack or something cold to the sting site to relieve some pain and swelling.
Be sure to clean the sting site with soap and water.
The blister should be left intact and untouched. If you find yourself with signs of an allergic reaction, seek immediate medical treatment.
The National Fire Ant Eradication Program launched in 2001.
To eradicate this pest, the program was first launched in September 2001, funded by the Australian government.
The action was taken after the first discovery of fire ants at the Port of Brisbane and Richlands in February 2001.
Odor-detecting dogs were utilized to find the ants’ nests from 40 meters away by smelling pheromones secreted by fire ants.
Upon finding the nests, chemicals are directly injected into them to kill the ants.