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Hunt for Coast's fire ants continues as new link uncovered

INVASIVE: Fire ants are about 2-6mm in length.
INVASIVE: Fire ants are about 2-6mm in length. Contributed

IN THE week since invasive red imported fire ants were discovered on the Sunshine Coast the Biosecurity Queensland search has uncovered no further fire nests.

After the discovery of a nest at Beerwah last Wednesday officers and fire ant odour detection dogs have been checking areas at high risk of infestation within 1km of the site.

The search will continue for two to three weeks.

One of the world's most invasive species, it is feared if the red imported fire ants establish in Queensland it could be devastating for the state's economy, environment and way of life.

Biosecurity Queensland's National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program director Geoff Kent said genetic testing of ants from the nest found they were related to Brisbane-based colonies.

"It is unknown at this stage how the fire ant nest arrived in Beerwah, however tracing investigations are continuing which may indicate the possible source of the infestation," he said.

Fire ant identification information will be sent to 3000 Beerwah residents, schools and community groups, road signs will be in place and the council and key industry personnel will be briefed on the fire ant situation.

Community engagement officers will set up a mobile office at the Simpson St car park, Beerwah, between 9am-1pm, on Thursday, and at the Queensland Garden Expo in Nambour on Saturday.

"Live fire ants will be on display and staff will be available to speak to residents about fire ants and any concerns that they may have," Mr Kent said.

"Everyone knows their own property best, so it is essential that residents and businesses check for fire ants and report suspect sightings to Biosecurity Queensland."

Fire ants vary in size between 2-6mm, are coppery-brown with a dark abdomen, are aggressive and inflict a painful sting.

Fire ant nests look like mounds of loose soil with no obvious entry or exit holes.

If you see any suspect ants or nests, take a photograph and submit it through the website or phone Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

Topics:  beerwah biosecurity queensland fire ants


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