Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development officers are keeping their eyes peeled for a tiny ant which, if it became established in WA, would have massive consequences.
In November last year, DPIRD made a concerning discovery, detecting a nest and several red imported fire ants at two neighbouring properties near Fremantle Port.
More than 750 properties have been inspected to date — with no more spotted — and officers are about to embark on the latest round of surveillance to ensure the invasive species has been contained.
It is anticipated ongoing inspections will continue for at least another 18 months.
“Continued surveillance is imperative to ensure this highly invasive pest has not spread beyond the initial discovery at the port,” DPIRD invertebrate pests manager John van Schagen said.
Next month, DPIRD personnel will be collecting ants and inspecting properties across both commercial and residential areas in the seaside suburb.
“If occupants are not home, department personnel will leave a calling card requesting they make contact to arrange an inspection,” Mr van Schagen said.
Thanks to the vigilance of surveillance personnel, and cooperation of residents and businesses in the area, there have been no further RIFA detections outside of the initial discovery site, where several linked nests were detected and subsequently treated.
The 2km RIFA quarantine zone established to encompass Port Beach, South Fremantle Dog Beach and East Street remains in effect, with movement of host material including hay, mulch, machinery and shipping containers prohibited without a movement permit issued by the Department.
Any suspected ant sightings should be reported using the MyPestGuideTM Reporter app, at mypestguide.agric.wa.gov.au or contact the Pest and Disease Information Service on 08 9368 3080 or firstname.lastname@example.org
More information on RIFA and the Department’s response can be found at agric.wa.gov.au/rifa