FIRE ants – which are found in Redlands, Logan and Scenic Rim areas – have been named by scientists as one of 12 exotic pest species which are the worst blight on the Australian landscape.
Invasive Species Council chief executive Andrew Cox said the dirty dozen were some of the most dangerous overseas plants and animals to have evaded Australia’s environmental border controls.
“We're calling them the dirty dozen because the case studies include some of Australia's most deadly invasive species – red fire ants, the eucalypt-killer myrtle rust, red-eared slider turtles and yellow crazy ants,” he said.
The dozen includes an illegally-released aquarium fish so aggressive it was named after pugnacious heavyweight boxing champion Jack Dempsey.
“Nowhere in Australia has been safe from these deadly incursions,” Mr Cox said.
“Queensland is battling fire ants, the Asian black-spined toad has turned up in Victoria, NSW and in the past few weeks Western Australia.
“One of the worst offenders is the native plant killer myrtle rust, which now infests our entire eastern seaboard and has reached Tasmania.
“Australia's environmental border controls are a leaky sieve and must be fixed.”
Western Australia was put on high alert after an Asian black-spined toad was discovered outside a home at Cloverdale, near Perth airport.
If the toad established a viable population in Australia it could cause serious ecological problems, comparable to the impact of the cane toad, but affecting the cooler parts of Australia.
Cane toads were released in Queensland in 1935 to eat a beetle that affected sugarcane crops.
Cane toads have since spread across much of northern Australia, devastating native species in their wake and having relatively no impact on the beetle.
Like the cane toad, the black-spined toad secretes poison from a gland on its back to ward off predators. It can also spread exotic parasites and pathogens.
Mr Cox said Australia's leaky environmental borders needed fixing.
Changes the council seeks included a biosecurity fighting fund sourced through a levy on air and sea cargo; a champion for environmental biosecurity based in the federal environment department; a priority list of major looming invasive threats to our environment and; a stronger focus on the environmental and social risks posed by dangerous new invasive species.