Invasive pest on the march in Freo

Red imported fire ant. Photo: ocvector.org
Red imported fire ant. Photo: ocvector.org

THE march of the red important fire ant is gathering pace in Fremantle, with the Department of Primary Industries calling on residents and businesses to help halt the spread.

A native to South America, red imported fire ant is considered one of the world’s worst invasive ant species.

It can form ‘super colonies’ with multiple queens that develop and spread quickly.

They can inflict a painful, fiery sting, which in rare cases can cause a severe acute reaction.

It was first sighted at Fremantle Port last month and authorities are while the nests were quickly destroyed, authorities are keen to ensure that none of the ants get any further and have put much of the suburb into ‘soil lockdown’ through an official quarantine notice.

“To support response efforts and prevent any potential spread of the pest, a Quarantine Area Notice has been put in place for parts of Fremantle, restricting the movement of a range of host materials including soil, potted plants, mulch, hay, manure and turf outside of this area,” Dr Clift said.

The red imported fire ant surveillance team.

“These restrictions also apply to machinery or equipment used in digging or earthmoving.

“Community support is vital to the success of this response program.

“We encourage residents and businesses in Fremantle to familiarise themselves with the Quarantine Area and movement restrictions.”

The Quarantine Area runs from Port Beach, as far south as South Fremantle Dog Beach and east to East Street.

More information on RIFA and the Quarantine Area, including maps, is available from the department website www.agric.wa.gov.au