Australia has a pretty good selection of itsy-bitsy teeny scary creatures and I’ve mentioned a few before on this blog.
I have previously described the mosquito as Australia’s biggest baddest thing.
And I first looked at Australia’s ants back in May 2009 and re-looked at them again this year. Well, more specifically, I looked at the fire ant again when I heard news that they were beginning to get a grip in this area of South East Queensland again.
Today I now have another update on the fire ant, but first, this is a tiny nasty that I’ve only mentioned once before, kind of in passing. This post is really a case of “there’s good news and news bad news”.
Let’s start with the bad news.
I came across a gang of termites chewing up a dead branch in my garden and I mentioned that on a post about good service in Australia. But termites are a major problem in Australia and it’s just got worse.
Or great northern termite as it is more commonly known. This is one of the world’s most aggressive termites; it looks more like a cockroach. It has been known to eat electrical wiring, tyres, leather, metal and plastic as well as glass. It will even eat the bitumen off the road.
It will attack fruit, vegetables, sugarcane crops and can cause severe damage to a house in just 12 weeks.
We have had them here in Australia for some time, but before now you would not have expected to see one unless you were at least 500 km north of Brisbane. Then last week a colony of these critters was found in a western suburb of the Gold Coast. That’s about 90 km south!
Great! Let’s add that to the list then.
And now the good news.
Another fire ant update.
As I have mentioned before in previous posts about fire ants, they are very difficult to get rid of. I think it’s true to say that no country or state has managed to completely eradicate them once they have established their nests.
But today we have a new weapon in the fight against fire ants.
But it’s not the helicopter that is the important part here, it’s the new thermal and multispectral cameras that do the work. The accompanying software, developed in Australia, can then quickly pick out those nests and that is what is really making the difference. So who knows, maybe we could be the first country ever to get rid of these pests.
How does it all work?
Fire ant nests are hotter than their surroundings and this new technology can pick out nests as small as 10 cm much faster than anything we have been used to before. What used to take six months, can now be accomplished in just one month.
As soon as the nests are pinpointed using the software, ground crews are then dispatched to “confirm and destroy” these nests.
Sure beats trying to stamp on them!