Fire Ants in Australia: The Red Imported Threat is Back!

I first wrote about the fire ant in May 2009. In that article, called tiny itsy-bitsy small Australian bad thing, I said “Fortunately, the Red Imported Fire Ant has pretty much been eradicated or controlled.”


Anybody who lives in South or North America will know these nasty little nippers are not that easy to get rid of. Just two weeks ago, the news was of 18 neighbourhoods within the Ipswich area that had come under attack by these pests.

Ipswich is about 20 minutes drive from where I live in Western Suburbs of Brisbane. This from the news two weeks ago….

Did you see the map? Well, here it is again, this time with my house marked on it by a red cross.

Fire Ants and My HouseGreat! Maybe I should check the garden.

The recent news wasn’t a big shock though, this from August 2010.

How bad are these critters? This bad…..

Well, actually, no. Not that bad. Its bite is not “far worse than 1,000 stings from a desert scorpion” nor can they “skeletonize a water buffalo in 45 seconds”.

But what a video! Such drama! Vincent Price would have been proud.

Back to reality.

Killing them isn’t a problem when nests are discovered. Discovering the nests is the problem. This very quick video highlights that problem and also shows what really can be underneath that brown patch in the yard…..

As far as I am aware, no country that has ever been invaded by fire ants has ever managed to totally eradicate them. So if Australia were to achieve it, it could be a first.

So, can we succeed?

Biosecurity Queensland are hopeful and with the availability of new remote sensing technology and trained sniffer dogs, who knows? Maybe they have a chance.

This is a more realistic view of how serious a problem fire ants can be from National Geographic. This one does start with an advert, but you will have an opportunity to skip it after just five seconds.

But be warned, the reality is probably a little scarier than the previously seen drama….

How bad is their bite? Ask this guy, but don’t try this at home…..

Yes, the Red Imported Fire Ant is a very scary thing and may yet turn out to be the baddest of all Australian bad things.

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