Oral Presentation Science Protecting Plant Health 2017

The future of the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program (4380)

F. Ross Wylie 1 , Sharon Janssen 1 , Geoffrey Kent 1
  1. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Moggill, QLD, Australia

In Australia, a national eradication program for the Red Imported Fire Ant (fire ant) (Solenopsis invicta Buren), one of the world’s most invasive species, has been in operation since 2001 when the pest was first detected in Brisbane, south east Queensland. Since that time, four separate incursions of this ant have been successfully eradicated from this country but the main south east Queensland population remains. Current estimates of the potential cost impacts of fire ant should it become widespread in Australia exceed AUD$1.65 billion/year. An external review of the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program (the Program) in 2015 concluded that it remains technically feasible, cost beneficial and in the national interest to eradicate, but that there was only a small window of opportunity left to achieve this. A ten-year eradication plan has been developed and is presently under consideration for funding by the Program’s national cost-share partners. The plan involves a significant boost in all eradication activities, significantly increasing the total area receiving treatment each year and additional resources dedicated to preventing human-assisted spread and further encouraging the industry and community to look for and report suspect fire ant infestation. A progressive ‘rolling’ strategy will be employed that focuses eradication activities initially in infested areas on the outer western and southern perimeter of the operational area and then shifts eradication effort inwards where there will be a staged clearance of suburbs. Mathematical modelling and quality assurance systems will be used to closely monitor the implementation and progress of the eradication and to ensure continued absence of infestation in treated and cleared areas.