Like a six-shooter in the sky, the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program's bait treatment helicopter is firing its sixth and final shot this week.
In what may be the fastest eradication effort ever of an invasive pest from overseas, the Fire Ant Program's sixth round is sure to be the final nail in the coffin for fire ants.
Biosecurity Queensland fire ant communication and stakeholder engagement manager Anthony Wright said the Fire Ant Program is determined to not let this pest get away in Gladstone.
"The scientific evidence shows that four rounds will do the trick. However, we're making sure there are no survivors," he said.
"The last time fire ants established in Gladstone in 2006, the Fire Ant Program declared the pest eradicated after four years.
"The progress of this eradication effort is excellent. If we find no active ant activity in July and then again in the first quarter of next year, the Fire Ant Program will be declaring them eradicated after only two and a half years.
"We attribute this success to the businesses in the Yarwun, Targinni and Curtis Island areas. Their cooperation and willingness to mitigate the risk of spreading the ants has been amazing.
"Thanks to the community support we've received we are confident of full eradication of fire ants from Fisherman's Landing by the end of June 2016.
"No new detections of fire ants have been made on Fisherman's Landing since the last surveillance operation last year."
The sixth and final round of aerial baiting concludes Wednesday 22 April. The targeted helicopter baiting is happening over Yarwun, Targinni and Curtis Island.
Mr Wright said aerial treatment allowed the program to cover larger areas more efficiently, for example 50 hectares can be treated aerially in 20 minutes compared to around two days using ground control methods.
"The bait we use is not harmful to humans or animals. The chemical used in the bait is targeted at fire ants and is similar to what is commonly used in animal flea collars," he said.
"The next time we'll be in Gladstone will be in July to undertake surveillance and perform post-treatment validation with odour detection dogs and visual surveillance.
"In another 12 months, we will perform our final surveillance to confirm the complete eradication of fire ants from Yarwun," he said.
Fire ants are aggressive, swarm when their nest is disturbed, and can inflict a painful sting. They threaten agriculture, our outdoor lifestyle and stop children from playing safely in their backyards.
Fire ants can be found in or on high-risk materials, which include:
- construction and landscaping materials
- soil, sand and pot plants
- mulch and green waste
- baled hay and straw
- machinery and earthmoving equipment.
For more information on the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program visit www.daf.qld.gov.au/fireants or call 13 25 23.