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With pest managers now joining the battle against fire ants, we share the latest news from the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program in South East Queensland.

Over 200 pest managers have now been trained by the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program to treat fire ants in South East Queensland.

Pest managers are being offered the free training as a way for the community and industry to help the program eradicate this challenging pest from our shores.

While most of those trained are following the procedures set down in the training, some pest managers are not carrying out the treatment correctly and are failing to report the result of their fire ant inspection and treatment to the program.

One pest manager who is doing the right thing is Luke Tysoe from Checkmate Pest Control (pictured above performing a direct nest injection).

“Since I was trained by the program I have carried out around 50 fire ant treatments using direct finest injection (DNI) and fire ant bait,” said Mr Tysoe. “Nearly all of this work has been for builders dealing with fire ants on construction sites, although I have treated fire ants on several residential properties too.

“As specified in the training, I’ve informed the program about every fire ant infestation I’ve attended using their online portal and wherever possible I’ve collected samples and delivered them to the program’s head office. I’ve also erected signage on the sites I’ve treated to warn the public to stay clear until the treatment can take effect.

“I believe it’s important that every pest manager does the right thing and helps the program tackle this dangerous pest.”

While most pest managers are treating nests by DNI, the program’s general manager Graeme Dudgeon said now was the perfect time to disperse fire ant bait that includes an insect growth regulator (IGR).

“Pest managers should consider using IGR bait when treating fire ants,” said Mr Dudgeon. “This is particularly effective in the warmer months as research has shown that hot weather and drought weaken fire ant colonies.

“The best time to spread the bait is either in the morning or evening when the fire ants are more likely to be foraging. Just remember to avoid applying bait until the morning dew has evaporated or when rain is forecast in the next 48 hours,” he said.

Mr Dudgeon said that when DNI is undertaken, it is important that the right insecticide is used.

“It’s important that the liquid form of the insecticide fipronil is used when injecting fire ant nests,” said Mr Dudgeon. “Over the years that the program has been running, we’ve established that this is the most effective insecticide to use.

“If anything else is used, you run the risk of not destroying the nest and also breaching the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) permit. Breaches result in penalties and may lead to the cancellation of your pest management licence,” he said.

Mr Dudgeon said the program values the contribution pest managers are making to help rid the country of this invasive pest. Yet it is important to note that pest managers who receive training via the program are not consequently endorsed by the Queensland Government.

“As a government organisation we cannot endorse any private business,” he said.

“So when it comes to marketing, pest managers must not use our branding, any Government-related images, or refer to the program or the Queensland Government either in person, print or online.

“They can however say they’ve been trained in the latest fire ant treatment methods.”

Mr Dudgeon said the program is now in the third year of a ten-year program to eradicate fire ants from South East Queensland, and the results in the western eradication area look promising.

“Initial reports are very positive with residents in parts of the Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim and the Ipswich City local government areas telling us “there used to be ants, now there are none,” he said.

“Over the course of the ten-year program, resources are focused on eradication strategies, working from the western boundary of the infestation area to the east.

“This season, the program aims to complete its eradication treatment in the west while controlling heavily infected areas, including parts of Scenic Rim, Logan and the northern Gold Coast.

“In the areas where the program is not undertaking eradication we do treat fire ant infestations, but there can be treatment delays; we prioritise areas of public risk, such as schools, childcare centres, parks and sporting fields.

“It’s in those areas that we’re keen to encourage the community and industry to engage the pest managers we’ve trained to treat fire ant nests.

“Fire ants can be a problem for the building and construction industry and can result in costly delays to projects. Construction sites provide the ideal habitat for young fire ant queens who are particularly attracted to areas of disturbed soil. These queens rapidly produce new fire ant colonies and infestations quickly spread.”

If a person discovers fire ants on their property, they should first contact the Fire Ant Eradication Program to report the activity.

They then have the option of contacting a local pest manager who has participated in the fire ant training scheme to resolve the issue.

The pest manager must then report the result of both their fire ant inspection and treatment to the program.

To report fire ants, find out more about the fire ant program or to register for the training, visit the Queensland Government website or call 13 25 23.