Fire ant invasion poses higher risk than sharks

A RECENT outbreak of dangerous red imported fire ants in Sydney has been labelled “so serious” it could turn deadly. 

It’s believed the large colony detected in Sydney’s Botany Bay last Tuesday arrived on a Cargo Ship from Argentina.

Invasive Species Council chief executive Andrew Cox told 9News.com.au an infestation of the insects in Texas had already claimed several lives, including that of a 13-year-old boy.


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Mr Cox said young people and the elderly had less ability to respond to stress and could go into shock after a bite.

He said we should be more afraid of the creepy insects than sharks.

According to the experts, the ants prefer open spaces such as parks, football fields, golf courses and residential backyards.

At this stage, the recent outbreak has been contained to one colony but experts warn they may have already made it into the suburbs following the recent discovery of male and female winged ants.

Fire Ant NEST

The nest of a red fire ant

The Daily Telegraph today reports emergency response teams armed with specially trained sniffer dogs from Queensland are searching a 6km radius from the Port Botany site for signs the ants have spread.

The ants are described as being reddish-brown in colour with a darker abdomen and their nests often look like disturbed soil or a small mound of soil with no visible entry holes.

Mr Cox warned if disturbed, the ants – which only measure between 2mm-6mm – may become aggressive, swarm and attack.

Encounters are usually fiery, involving dozens of the ants moving rapidly with a large number stinging the victim at once.

The nasty sting produces a painful sensation which can last for up to an hour and people prone to allergic reactions could experience severe symptoms and should seek immediate medical attention.

If you suspect you have found red ants, you are urged to contact the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.

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