Dogs that sniff out fire ants are just one of the weapons the Queensland Government is using in the war on these exotic and unwelcome pests.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said Biosecurity Queensland had begun an eight-month baiting program west and south of Brisbane using helicopters and ground crews to spread a non-toxic bait.
“With the warmer weather the fire ants are on the move but so are we,” Mr Furner said.
“As well as baiting, we are engaging with local communities and businesses to raise awareness and encourage reporting of suspicious ants.”
Mr Furner said odour detection dogs had been used with great success in ant eradication programs and were a world-first innovation for detection and eradication of invasive ant species.
“They are used primarily for surveillance,” Mr Furner said.
“Their extra-sensitive noses are perfect for checking areas where the program has recently completed baiting to determine if any ants have survived.”
“One of our most popular engagement activities is the fire ant school education program called ‘Aka the fire ant tracker’, which features our retired fire ant odour detection dog − a Labrador named Aka.
“Our handler takes Aka around schools teaching students about the threat posed by fire ants and inspiring their interest in current environmental issues.
Minister Furner said 2018 was the second season of a 10-year plan to eradicate fire ants from Australia.
“Our 10-year strategy will involve the suppression and then elimination of fire ants starting to the west of Ipswich in the Lockyer and Scenic Rim and also on the Gold Coast, and gradually working towards the east,” he said.