Capalaba resident concerned over fire ant management

SITE: The site of the fire ant nests near Leslie Harrison Dam.
SITE: The site of the fire ant nests near Leslie Harrison Dam.

A CAPALABA resident says the state government has not done enough to deal with fire ant infestations near Leslie Harrison Dam.

The land owner, who asked not to be named, said she was concerned that neighbours had not been notified that nests were found on Seqwater property in September.

In response, a Biosecurity Queensland spokesperson said fire ants had been detected on 30 properties at Capalaba, Birkdale, Cleveland, Mount Cotton, Redland Bay, Sheldon and Thornlands during the last six months of 2018.

The spokesperson did not respond to the resident’s concerns that neighbours had not been notified, or whether it was usual practice for nearby property owners to be notified of detections.

The resident said the state government needed to take the issue more seriously. 

NESTS: The marked fire ant nests near Leslie Harrison Dam.

NESTS: The marked fire ant nests near Leslie Harrison Dam.

“Whilst the fire ant nests have now been treated, it is not acceptable that they have not said a word publicly to advise the residents living in the area, especially those in the immediate area of the Leslie Harrison Dam,” she said.

“Questions remain as to how the government have conducted checks for more fire ant nests...”

“The nests were found and treated but I don’t think that’s where Biosecurity Queensland’s job should stop.

“How do they know the fire ants are not anywhere else?”

A Biosecurity Queensland spokesperson said the detections were in a known area of infestation.

“They were found within the program’s operational area and within the current Fire Ant Biosecurity Zone,” the spokesperson said.

“The nests would have been treated with direct nest injection which floods the nest and tunnels with a registered insecticide.

“Ground crews will also have spread bait around the area.”

An Seqwater spokesman said Seqwater retained the same responsibility as freehold property owners to report suspect nests on its land to Biosecurity Queensland.

“Fire ant infestations have been discovered across Capalaba – and wider area – for years now and like any other landholder in the area, it is Seqwater’s responsibility to immediately report any suspicious ant activity to Biosecurity Queensland, so the sites can be confirmed and treated by the lead agency,” the spokesman said.

“Fire ant biosecurity zones are in place in areas of Queensland to restrict the movement of materials that could spread fire ants.

“Capalaba is in fire ant biosecurity zone 2, so residents should always be vigilant in the surveillance on private and public land, regardless of whether an infestation has been detected nearby or not.”

The Seqwater spokesman said their employees were trained to identify fire ants and Seqwater-managed land was regularly monitored.

“Preventative measures are also in place to prevent the spread of fire ants, including inspections of materials and equipment before work and using contractors that can demonstrate compliance with biosecurity requirements,” he said.

The Biosecurity spokesperson said they provided Redland City Council with training and updates about fire ant detections.

A close-up of the fire ant nests at Capalaba.

A close-up of the fire ant nests at Capalaba.

The spokesperson said fire ants could be identified by their nest which looked like a mound of loose soil with no visible entry or exit holes.

“Fire ants are small and vary in size in the one nest and are coppery-brown with a dark abdomen,” the spokesperson said.

“They are aggressive and inflict a painful sting so please be careful not to get too close.”

Information about fire ants is available from the state government at daf.qld.gov.au/fireants, or by calling 13 25 23.