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Red Fire Ant Invasion
What are red imported fire ants and why are they a big deal?
What are red imported fire ants?
Scientific Name: Solenopsis invicta
Red imported fire ants (RIFA) are an invasive and aggressive species of ant, native to South America, that have spread to North America, the Caribbean, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, and, unfortunately for us, Australia.
RIFAs measure between two and six millimetres in length and are coppery-brown in colour on the head and body, with a darker abdomen.
Why are RIFAs a problem?
Australia has had several invasive species issues over the years so why are RIFAs such an issue?
inflict painful, burning stings
injure domestic animals
damage crops and equipment
invade parks, recreational areas and other public expanses
threaten native flora and fauna
In the USA, RIFAs are estimated to cause economic losses in excess of $1 billion annually.
Similar impacts are expected to occur in Australia if these ants are able to gain a foothold which, of course, has government and other environmental officials concerned.
Where have RIFAs been found in Australia thus far?
Red ants have been discovered at the Port Botany facility in NSW, and high risk restricted areas have been set up around Ipswich, Logan and the Yarwun region around Gladstone.
What can I do to help?
If you suspect that you have seen an imported red ant you can report the sighting to your local authorities: