Environmental issues

Pests and weeds

How far have fire ants spread? Why are they a problem?

There has been one known incursion of fire ants in New South Wales, discovered in November 2014. For more information, see the website of the NSW Department of Primary Industries who is leading surveillance and eradication efforts.

In Queensland, fire ant nests have been found in the south-western suburbs of Brisbane, including the Wacol/Richlands area and surrounding suburbs. Other infested areas have been found at Fisherman Island (Port of Brisbane), Myrtletown, Banyo, Nudgee and Doonan (near Cooroy). The Doonan outbreak is a result of plant material being moved from an infested site.

See detailed maps of the insect's current Queensland distribution on the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry website.

Why are fire ants a problem?

In the USA, fire ants are estimated to cause economic losses in excess of $1 billion annually. Similar impacts are expected to occur in Australia if fire ants are not eradicated. The insects:

  • inflict a painful, burning sting
  • invade our backyards, parks and recreational areas
  • threaten native flora and fauna
  • injure domestic animals
  • damage crops and equipment.

Due to the small geographic range of fire ants in Australia, only minor impacts have been observed to date.

Page last updated: 17 December 2014