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23 January 2024

Fire ant treatment around Murwillumbah to continue after big wet

Written consent required from landowners to allow treatment on properties

Fire ant bait

The treatment for fire ants is made up of small pieces of corn grit soaked in soybean oil. It contains a low concentration of insect growth regulator. Written consent is required from property owners for treatment to occur.

Recent heavy rain has impacted the treatment of fire ants in and around Murwillumbah.

The National Fire Ant Eradication Program (NFAEP) and NSW DPI have advised their treatment program will resume in Murwillumbah when the ground dries out.

The Tweed incident is being treated separately to the response established over the weekend after fire ants were discovered at a property at Wardell, south of Ballina, on Friday [19 January 2024].

The NFAEP’s engagement team have been out and about in Murwillumbah in recent weeks, meeting residents and business owners, with plenty of positive feedback and interest around treatment of the invasive pests.

So far, they’ve spoken to more than 1,200 people in the local area and received more than 500 calls, many about suspected fire ants. None of these reports have turned out to be fire ants.

To date, the only positive detection of fire ants in the Tweed remains at the new industrial estate at South Murwillumbah, which was identified in late November 2023.

The next part of the emergency response in South Murwillumbah is to treat and look for fire ants within the 500 m to 5 km section of the designated Movement Control Area.

It is vital that fire ant teams can check and treat 100% of properties in the 5 km zone, whether fire ants are visible or not, to protect residents and businesses from the harmful impacts of this invasive pest.

How you can help

The National Fire Ant Eradication Program requires the consent of landowners to access their properties. The team has been doorknocking to get consent from residents and businesses regarding treatment on their property. Treatment can only be applied with the written consent of the property owner.

Mayor of Tweed Shire Chris Cherry urged landowners and tenants to support fire ant treatment activities and provide teams with consent to access their properties by signing the consent form as soon as possible by filling in the form online.

“Just one missed nest could put our entire community and way of life at risk,” Cr Cherry said.

“Treatment is the only proven way to eradicate fire ants — we must work as one to protect our residents, agriculture sector and local businesses from their irreversible damage.

“I urge all landowners in the 5 km zone in Murwillumbah to get online and sign the consent form as soon as possible so the treatment teams can move forward with their work.”

How to provide consent

Once you have signed the consent form, it’s important residents alert the NFAEP of any access restrictions and hazards on their property before the treatment team visits.

Complete the property information form to let the team know about:

  • locked gates

  • dogs or other animals

  • property access issues such as waterways.

Cr Cherry said ensuring the area remains fire ant-free is everyone’s responsibility.

“We need everyone to keep their eyes peeled for fire ants and ensure they do not inadvertently spread the pest,” she said.

“Please check your backyards, local parks, road verges and paddocks for signs of fire ants and lodge a report if you spot any suspicious ants or nests.

“You can do this online at fireants.org.au or by calling 13 25 23. By working together, we can stop the spread of fire ants and protect our community.”

For more information, including on movement controls, check out the NSW DPI website at dpi.nsw.gov.au/fire-ants.

Two Albert's Lyrebirds caught on camera at Mt Nullum

An extreme close-up of a fire ant. (Source: NSW DPI)


Photo 1: Fire ant bait
Caption: The treatment for fire ants is made up of small pieces of corn grit soaked in soybean oil. It contains a low concentration of insect growth regulator. Written consent is required from property owners for treatment to occur.

Photo 2: Fire Ant
Caption: An extreme close-up of a fire ant (Source: NSW DPI).

Connection to Council’s Community Strategic Plan:

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Tweed Shire Council wishes to acknowledge the Ngandowal and Minyungbal speaking people of the Bundjalung Country, in particular the Goodjinburra, Tul-gi-gin and Moorung – Moobah clans, as being the traditional owners and custodians of the land and waters within the Tweed Shire boundaries. Council also acknowledges and respects the Tweed Aboriginal community’s right to speak for its Country and to care for its traditional Country in accordance with its lore, customs and traditions.
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