Queensland has many plants and animals that have been introduced, either deliberately or accidentally. Some of these species have become invasive—that is, they have spread and multiplied to the point where they can cause damage to the environment, economy and the community, including human health and recreation.
Fire ants were first detected in the Brisbane area in February 2001, these South American ants pose a serious social, economic and environmental threat. Fire ants have been declared a notifiable pest under the Plant Protection Act 1989.
Fire ants are a social menace because of their sting. Encounters with fire ants usually involve dozens of ants moving quickly and undetected. By the time they sting, a large number of ants could be on your body, all stinging at once. Stings from fire ants can cause a painful, burning itching sensation, which can last for up to an hour. Multiple stings give the sensation that the body is on fire.
Fire ants have the potential to inhabit most of the major coastal areas of Australia, and extensive areas of the tropical north. Vast areas of the continent’s natural environment, including world heritage areas and national parks, are prone to fire ant invasion.
Fire ants are very aggressive and are voracious feeders on small ground fauna, including insects, spiders, lizards, frogs, birds and mammals. Consequently, fire ants may displace or eliminate some of Australia’s unique native species.
The ants’ habit of eating or damaging seeds can cause major changes in an ecosystem over time. Fire ants are also predatory, attacking insects and animals that pollinate native plants.
As at July 1 2016 the Queensland Bio Security Act amendments pertaining to fire ants will come into effect. For Scouts Queensland this means the onus of awareness, detection and notification will fall on each member of the public and in particular land users and therefore groups within the affected areas. (Note: list of high risk suburbs-Restricted area Suburbs)
Why are Scouts targeted
Due to our engagement within our local environment, activities including our environmental remediation works and fund raising activities which both have been identified as high risk within the fire ants areas. More so daily activities conducted at our homes within the identified areas also contribute to the identification and resulting eradication of the fire ant problem. To note many of our Groups conduct mulching activities where the movement of high risk items are conducted. Further high risk activities and items are noted below:
What are restricted items
Controls apply to the movement of restricted items within and out of the Fire Ant Restricted Area. Restricted items include:
- soil (includes fill, clay, overburden, scrapings, topsoil, decomposed granite (deco), potting media and any other material from the ground)
- baled hay
- pot plants
- potting media
- poultry litter.
Branch have completed preliminary consultation with Bio Security Queensland and are awaiting confirmation of training requirements. The Compliance Officer has completed certification training and will discuss the issues with GL’s in the affected area.
Once training is confirmed communication will be initiated to Regions to facilitate sessions in locations.