Red imported fire ant found in Fremantle

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

THE red imported fire ant has been found at Fremantle Port and the State Government is surveying the port and surrounding areas for further sightings.

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.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development has treated several linked nests at Fremantle Port to destroy the ants and prevent further spread.

Fremantle Port workers, local residents and businesses are being asked to be alert and report any unfamiliar ants in the area.

Red imported fire ant looks similar to common native ants, are reddish brown in colour with a darker abdomen, and between two to six millimetres long.

They come in an unusual variety of sizes within the nests.

Nests are often found in open areas like lawns, firebreaks or fence lines.

Suspect ant sightings should be reported to the department using its MyPestGuide Reporter app or online at mypestguide.agric.wa.gov.au.

“This is the first time red imported fire ant has been found in Western Australia,” Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan said.

“The pest poses a significant threat to the environment, agriculture, the economy, human health and Australia’s outdoor lifestyle.

“The State Government has moved quickly to destroy the ants, and we are undertaking surveillance around Fremantle to determine whether they have spread.

“The public have a critical role to play in this situation: we are calling on Fremantle residents and workers to keep an eye out and to report any unfamiliar ants, to help protect WA from this pest.”