Fire ants are not native to Australia, but it hasn't taken long for these imported pests to feel at home. They entered Australia in 2001 and are quickly expanding their range. These pests may soon be in your backyard, if they aren't already there.
Where are fire ants found?
Fire ants are native to South America, but they have been introduced to the United States and Australia. In Australia, fire ants were first seen in Brisbane and are still confined to Queensland, at least for now.
They can easily spread to the rest of Australia, so areas that currently contain fire ants are considered restricted areas. This means that items that could potentially allow the fire ants to spread can't be taken out of this area. Soil, mulch, bark, potted plants, turf, and logs are among these restricted items.
How do you identify a fire ant?
At first glance, fire ants look similar to other types of ants you might encounter, but there are a few ways to identify them.Their heads are a reddish brown, while their bodies are a darker shade of brown. Fire ants range in size from between 2 to 6 mm, even within one nest. Native ants do not have this size variation within one nest.
Their mounds can also help you identify these ants. These mounds will often be built in flat areas, like in the middle of your lawn. You won't be able to see an entrance to the mound, while the the mound of a native ant species will have a visible entrance.
Why are fire ants a problem?
Fire ants have been an invasive species in the United States for decades, and now cause more than $1 billion worth of damage every year. If these ants are allowed to spread throughout Australia, the same thing can happen here. These ants have the potential to harm native plants and animals, and to damage crops.
They are also a danger to people. When these ants sting, they do it in large numbers. A group of ants can swarm and sting you before you even realize what's happening, and then you'll be left with severe pain. In extreme cases, people can even die from these stings.
Fire ants have the potential to become a widespread nuisance in Australia. If you see one, you need to contact both a pest control company like Black & White Pest Control and Biosecurity Queensland.