RESIDENTS in south-east Queensland who are spending more time at home due to COVID-19 restrictions are being urged to order bait online and treat fire ants in their backyards to avoid additional health risks to their families.
National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Programs Steering Committee chair Dr Wendy Craik said she was concerned that families, and especially children, would spend more time in their gardens now, exposing them to greater risk of fire ants stings.
"Fire ants swarm and collectively inflict a painful sting and in rare cases this can result in severe acute allegic reaction known as anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening," she said.
"Some victims can require hospitalisation this is the last thing our community needs, and is the last thing our hospitals and health services need at the moment.
"The program is continuing its eradication treatment as planned unless instructed otherwise by the federal or Queensland governments.
"This critical work in eradication areas of Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim and parts of Ipswich shows promising results as we near the end of the final treatment season in that area.
"In other areas not yet subject to eradication treatment, residents are urged to purchase fire ant bait online from local retailers now, in case of future shutdowns, and follow the instructions on the bait label."
Dr Craik said off the shelf treatments could help suppress fire ant populations and prevent them taking over your yard
"Or you can engage a licensed pest manager to conduct the treatment for you, as many now have been trained by the program to treat fire ants," she said.
"If residents cannot treat fire ants themselves, call the program and we will come and treat as soon as possible."
Dr Craik said field teams were observing the new social distancing and hygiene rules when treating properties.
"If our officers need to speak with the resident they will knock on the door and then step back 1.5 metres," she said.
"We've also put in place a range of other workplace health and safety measures, including restricting face-to-face meetings and issuing strict guidance about not coming to work if sick.
"Additional vehicles have been hired so that we can reduce the number of workers travelling to treatment sites together.
"These measures are not just important to protect the health and safety of our staff, but the community of South East Queensland as well.".
By taking these measures, Dr Craik said she was confident the program could keep its field teams in work and maintain the fight against this super pest that is a risk to health and the Australian way of life.
A Google search can find approved fire ant baits available online including:
- Distance plus
- Synergy Pro
- Pestxpert Nest Kill granular
- Amdro granular
For information on what baits are available on the market, how to use them, or how to identify and report fire ants visit daf.qld.gov.au/fireants or call 13 25 23.