HOVER: A fire ant control chopper attempts to eradicate the ants from Ipswich.
HOVER: A fire ant control chopper attempts to eradicate the ants from Ipswich.

Dire warning as fire ant sightings increase across city

DEVASTATING fire ants are on the move across Ipswich, with the group tasked with eradicating the critters recording an increase in sightings.

While the region has long been a hotspot for fire ant activity, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has reported an increase in the number of reports.

A spokesman for Biosecurity Queensland said officers from the fire ant program were working to eradicate the pests.

"There has been an increase in reports from the Ripley area and from all suburbs across southeast Queensland," he said.

"The programs community engagement team is working with residents in the Ripley area to provide information about fire ants and the eradication program.

"We encourage the community to continue to be our eyes on the ground. By working together, we can eradicate fire ants from Australia."

Ipswich is within the Fire Ant Biosecurity Zone, a known area of infestation.

"Fire ants have the potential to destroy our outdoor life-style, and everyday activities such as barbeques, picnics and sporting events may be no longer be possible if fire ants were left unchecked," the spokesman said.

"They can impact severely on people's health and well-being, as well as the environment and economy.

"It's essential residents and businesses continue to support the Fire Ant Program as early detection means the colonies can be treated before they have a chance to spread."

Officers from the program responds to all reports of suspect fire ants.

Once reported, a fire ant sample is collected by program staff or a sample kit is sent to the resident to collect a sample return to the program.

If the sample is identified as positive, staff will organise treatment using fire ant bait or a direct nest injection.

"Prompt reporting of suspect fire ants is crucial so we can treat them and reduce the risk of the ants spreading any further," the spokesman said.