DANGEROUS: The red imported fire ants pose a huge biosecurity threat. Photo: Contributed
DANGEROUS: The red imported fire ants pose a huge biosecurity threat. Photo: Contributed

Hay! Watch out for fire ants

THE NSW Department of Primary Industries is warning local livestock owners to ensure all hay and feed from southeast Queensland is free of red imported fire ants.

NSW DPI Invasive Plants and Animals director Andrew Sanger said the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program recently intercepted a truck carrying infested bales of uncertified hay, which had travelled hundreds of kilometres outside the fire ant biosecurity zone in Queensland.

“If stockfeed comes from a fire ant infested area, both the farmer and supplier need to ensure risk mitigation measures have been followed,” Dr Sanger said.

“Hay from the infested area must have a Plant Health Certificate which verifies it meets the strict conditions required to import hay into NSW from the fire ant biosecurity zone.”

BEWARE: NSW DPI is warning all producers and farmers to be on the lookout for imported red fire ants. PHOTO: Belinda Keen
BEWARE: NSW DPI is warning all producers and farmers to be on the lookout for imported red fire ants. PHOTO: Belinda Keen

The Plant Health Certificate must certify a number of conditions, including; the hay or straw bales have been inspected and found to be dry and free of all soil; the hay or straw bales have been treated with an APVMA approved chemical for the control of tramp ants in accordance with all label directions and permit conditions; and immediately following treatment, the hay or straw bales have been handled and stored in a manner that prevents infestation by tramp ants.

Mr Sanger said all hay or straw bales must remain in conditions which prevent tramp ant infestation until arrival in NSW, and hay produced within the southeast Queensland fire ant biosecurity zone must comply with these requirements.

He said red imported fire ants pose a significant agricultural and environmental biosecurity risk.

They are aggressive, highly-adaptive and well-equipped for survival in Australian conditions.

The National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program aims to eradicate the pest from Australia through a 10-year plan.

Exotic ants should be reported to the biosecurity hotline 1800 680 244.


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