Poster Presentation Science Protecting Plant Health 2017

Fire ants in Australia: eradication tools, strategies, and success stories (#149)

F. Ross Wylie 1 , Melinda K McNaught 1 , Christine Horlock 1
  1. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Moggill, QLD, Australia

The Red Imported Fire Ant (Solenopsis invicta) was officially identified in Brisbane in 2001 and has been the subject of a nationally funded eradication program ever since. As the program moves into a long-term strategy to eradicate the final south-east Queensland population, we highlight the program’s success in eradicating three fire ant populations from Queensland and one from New South Wales. The tools used to achieve this success include ground surveillance by staff and odour detection dogs, remote sensing surveillance using thermal signatures of active fire ant mounds, genetic analysis at both the nest and population level, and varying treatment methods combining both individual mound treatments and broadcast baiting. We also highlight how genetic analysis can inform management decisions, which was critical for defining the origin of subsequent detections at previously cleared areas. With the knowledge gained from the last decade and a half, these tools will only become more relevant as fire ants and other invasive ant species continue to spread as the result of global trade.