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Fire Ants Confirmed in Somerset

THE invasive red imported fire ant has been found in Somerset with Biosecurity Queensland today confirming a positive case at Lowood.

It is the first time the destructive ants have been found in the Somerset Regional Council area.

A total of 10 nests were found on vacant land in Lowood, outside of the current fire ant biosecurity zone.

Biosecurity Queensland officers have destroyed the nests by direct nest injection using insecticide and also bait treated the immediate area.

Somerset residents were urged to remain vigilant in April after a confirmed case of fire ants was found at Pine Mountain, close to the regions boundary.

Somerset Regional Council Mayor Graeme Lehmann said it was disappointing that the ants had been found in the region.

“Council has always urged its constituents to be on the lookout for the destructive ants and has observed strict biosecurity measures in an attempt to prevent a positive case in Somerset,” Cr Lehmann said.  

“Unfortunately, they have now been confirmed and this will result in significant changes to biosecurity measures for the impacted area, in an effort to protect the region from the spread of the nasty pests.”    

Fire ants were first discovered in Queensland in February 2001 and despite the ants spreading throughout Ipswich and other parts of south east Queensland, Somerset has remained free of the pest.

Cr Lehmann said the most important thing now was for residents to be extra cautious and report any suspicious ants.

“Residents need to remain vigilant and report anything suspicious to Biosecurity Queensland immediately,” he said.

The distinguishing feature of fire ants is their variance of size between two to six millimetres. Their colour is copper-brown with a dark abdomen.

Fire ants inflict a painful sting and area aggressive. Their nests appear as mounds of loose soil with no entry or exit holes and can often be found around fence lines, dams, edges of cultivated land, crop land post-harvest, garden beds, lawns and taps.

For information on identifying fire ants and to report sightings visit: www.daf.qld.gov.au/fireants or phone 13 25 23.