National Biosecurity Management Group Communiqué: Red Imported Fire Ants Fremantle Port, Western Australia - 13 December 2019

The National Biosecurity Management Group (NBMG) – comprising all governments – agreed to a two year nationally cost shared eradication response plan for (Solenopsis Invicta) Red Imported Fire Ant (RIFA) at Fremantle Port, Western Australia (WA) under the National Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement.

A range of techniques to delimit, contain and eradicate the infestation will be led by WA’s Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD). Odour detector surveillance dogs have been deployed to assist with surveillance efforts on the ground and have proven useful in locating nests at previous incursions.

The eradication response follows the detection of RIFA at a storage facility at the Fremantle Port in WA on 20 November 2019. The nest was immediately treated by staff from DPIRD.  Specimens were sent for genetic analysis which revealed this incursion was genetically distinct from the RIFA population in south east Queensland and other locations where RIFA incursions have taken place, confirming this detection as a new incursion into Australia.

RIFA are one of the world’s worst invasive species due to their devastating economic, environmental and social impacts. RIFA pose a danger to human health (delivering painful stings and can cause anaphylactic shock), and their impact on backyards and recreational areas would change the way Australians live.

Previous incursions of RIFA have been successfully eradicated from Australia. This includes two incursions at Yarwun, Brisbane Airport and Port of Brisbane in Queensland and Port Botany in New South Wales.

The RIFA incursion currently under eradication in south east Queensland is being led by Biosecurity Queensland and cost-shared between the Australian Government and all states and territories. 

Anyone who suspects that they have found an invasive ant population should report it to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881 as soon as possible.

For more information on current national biosecurity responses please visit the national pest and disease outbreaks web page