News & Media

Fremantle community urged to maintain fight against red imported fire ant

Released on

Released on:
Thursday, 14. May 2020 - 11:00

Fremantle residents and businesses are asked to keep supporting the ongoing quarantine and surveillance activities for red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta).

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPRID) discovered the invasive pest at two adjoining commercial properties in Fremantle port in November 2019.

This led to a Quarantine Action Notice (QAN) being issued for parts of Fremantle in December 2019, prohibiting the movement of material that could harbour the ants without a valid permit.

DPIRD Biosecurity Executive Director Mia Carbon said that some residents and businesses in the QAN area appeared to be unaware of ongoing restrictions.

“We have received reports that some residents are, understandably, using the time at home during COVID-19 restrictions to undertake major gardening or home renovation projects,” Dr Carbon said.

“These activities pose a risk of spreading undetected RIFA and can breach restrictions, which puts Fremantle and Western Australia as a whole at risk from this nasty pest.

“Moving host materials such as soil, potted plants, mulch, hay, manure and turf outside the area, as well as using digging and earthmoving equipment, can transfer pest ants. In these instances a movement permit issued by DPIRD may be necessary.

“DPIRD reminds residents that the QAN issued last year remains in place and is likely to be extended until at least December this year.”

Residents can still tackle garden and home projects without a permit as long as material is kept on site. Composting is a suitable alternative for green waste.

The second round of RIFA surveillance began on 14 April around the port area and activity is now shifting into residential areas.

“Letters have been distributed to 600 residents asking for permission to access garden and outdoor areas so that our inspectors can undertake necessary surveillance for this pest,” Dr Carbon said.

“Fremantle residents and businesses have been very supportive of our surveillance, baiting and quarantine activities so far, which we appreciate. We need their continued cooperation to successfully eradicate RIFA.

“RIFA is a significant invasive species that can have a major impact on agriculture, the environment, the economy and our outdoor lifestyle if left unchecked.”

The Quarantine Area runs from Port Beach to South Fremantle dog beach, south to Douro Road and east to East Street.

Fremantle residents and business owners can call the department’s dedicated RIFA phone number, 9368 3290, to organise an inspection. Suspected RIFA sightings can also be reported using the MyPestGuide Reporter app or MyPestGuide website.

More information on RIFA and related movement restrictions, including maps, is available here.

Media contacts:

Jodie Thomson/Lisa Bertram, DPIRD media liaison, (08) 9368 3937