Oxley Creek Catchment Association Fire Ant Nest Treatment

Imported red fire ants are spreading across our catchment.

OCCA is helping to eradicate fire ants by supporting our community to actively treat nests.
Our dedicated Staff and Bushcare Team Leaders are trained in identification and bait application to reduce the risk of further infestation and to keep our community safe.

More information National Fire Ant Eradication Program

Step-by-step guide to identifying and treating fire ant nests safely.
Identifying Fire Ant Nests

1. Know the Characteristics: Familiarise yourself with fire ants’ appearance and behaviour. The ants are copper-brown with a darker abdomen, of mixed sizes, 2 – 6 mm (see video below), and usually aggressive (i.e. they swarm) when disturbed – poke the nest with a long stick and observe. 

2. Survey the Area: Walk around the area suspected of having fire ant nests. Nests appear as dome-shaped mounds or flat and look like a small patch of loose soil. Nests have no obvious openings. Ants enter and leave the mound via underground tunnels. Check disturbed, sunny, open, grassy areas with loose, sandy soil, as fire ants prefer these environments. See images below.

Nests appear as dome-shaped mounds or flat and look like a small patch of loose soil.

3. If in doubt: Report the nests to the Fire Ant Eradication Program or OCCA.

Treating Fire Ant Nests

The Biosecurity Act 2014 requires all reasonable steps to stop fire ants from spreading.

1. Wear Protective Gear: Prioritise safety. Wear long sleeves, long pants, closed-toe shoes and gloves. Wash hands after handling chemicals.

2. Apply Treatment: OCCA can help advise on the treatment needed.
• Use granules insecticides labelled for fire ant control. Follow manufacturer instructions carefully. OCCA has safety data sheets.
• Direct Method: To treat mounds, sprinkle granular insecticide bait (Advion) ~ 1m around each mound (not on mound) or over the entire area infested with fire ants. 1 cap (15g) per mound.
• Broad Treatment: For areas with many nests or a larger area known to be infested, the broadcast method using a handheld or wheeled spreader can be used to apply bait.

3. Report the location and treatment method:
Record the following details and send to OCCA
• Date of treatment
• Property type
• Site location – address or GPS coordinates
• Which fire ant product was applied?
• Rate and how the product was applied?
• How many suspect fire ant mounds were treated with granular product?
• How long did you spend on treating nests at this site?

OR Report Online

4. Monitor Effectiveness: Check treated areas regularly for ant activity. If needed, reapply treatments according to the product label.

5. Environmental Considerations: Be mindful of nearby water sources and use appropriate bait (talk to OCCA) and if there are upcoming rain events, delay treatment until dry and fine weather.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is the bait safe for humans, animals and native ants?
Fire ant baits are considered safe for humans and most animals. The bait used to treat fire ants is specifically targeted to kill ants. More information. Research on native ants.

How can I find out if Fire Ants are in my suburb?
The National Fire Ant Eradication Program maintains a map showing the location of all reported Fire Ant nests from the past 12 months. You can check your location here.

What to do when you/someone you are with is bitten.

Fire Ant First Aid
Most people do not need medical treatment for fire ant stings.

If breathing is normal and the sting victim does not have a history
of insect allergies, the following home treatments can be effective:

• Gently wash the affected area with soap and water.
• Apply a cold compress to relieve the swelling and pain.
Take an antihistamine to manage minor, localised reactions and itching.
• It is important to keep the blister intact as there is a risk of secondary infection if the blisters or pustules break.

Severe reactions

A severe reaction may occur if a sting victim has a history of allergic reactions to insects or experiences the following symptoms:
• rapid onset of flushing
• general hives
• swelling of the face, eyes or throat
• chest pains
• nausea
• severe sweating
• breathing difficulties
• faintness.

If you observe any symptoms of a severe reaction in someone who has been stung by fire ants seek urgent medical advice – CALL 000

Animal first aid

If your animal or pet has been stung, it is important to:
• Quickly move them away from the ants or the nest.
• Remove any fire ants from their skin or fur to ensure there are no further stings.
• Giving your pet a cool bath after being stung can provide some relief.
• Wear a pair of gloves to protect yourself and brush the ants off the animal’s skin or fur. You can use a brush or comb or pick the ants off individually.
• Do not try to hose them off as this can make the ants more aggressive.

Seek further advice from your vet if the animal is in pain or is showing signs of an allergic reaction. This can be drooling or vomiting, lethargy or trouble breathing. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening, but it can also be treated quickly.

Fortunately, in most cases, pets recover well from fire ant stings.