NSW is scrambling to stop fire ants crossing from Queensland

Fire ants have been discovered six kilometres from the NSW border, prompting new restrictions to stop the ants from going across state lines.
fire ants

The NSW Government has introduced new biosecurity measures to limit the threat of a fire ant migration from South East Queensland.

The restrictions were triggered by the discovery of a fire ant nest on the Gold Coast, just six kilometres from the NSW border.

It’s the closest they have been to NSW since they were first detected in Brisbane over 20 years ago.

What are fire ants?

Fire ants are aggressive insects known for an extremely painful sting. They are about 2-6 millimetres in length, and can make your body feel on fire when they sting.

Queenslanders have a legal obligation to report sightings of the ants within 24 hours of spotting them.

Eradication treatments have occurred in regional and rural parts of South East QLD. They’re yet to happen in urban areas.

Fire ants discovery:

Fire ants have previously been contained in areas of South East QLD such as Brisbane, Ipswich, and Logan City.

The nest found in a southern Gold Coast suburb last week is evidence of fire ants some 20 kilometres outside the biosecurity zone where the insects were thought to be. The nest has since been destroyed.

NSW reaction:

In response to the discovery, the NSW Government activated a law adding greater control on the movement of mulch, soil, turf and hay bales – “high-risk materials” that could bring the ants across the border.

The restrictions will apply to materials within a five-kilometre radius of the Gold Coast sighting, and will be subject to a special inspection and certification in QLD before they can cross into NSW.


NSW Agriculture Minister Tara Moriarty said fire ants would have a “huge impact” if they established a presence in NSW. She also said they could limit the state’s exports and opportunities for trade.

They were detected at Sydney’s Port Botany in 2014, but were successfully eradicated two years later.

The discovery triggered restrictions on the movement of high-risk materials in the Port Botany area.

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