News & Media

Red imported fire ant response takes positive step forward

Released on

Released on:
Thursday, 3. December 2020 - 12:30

The dedicated biosecurity response against red imported fire ant (RIFA) has taken a promising step forward, with quarantine restrictions being lifted across residential areas in Fremantle from Friday, 4 December 2020.

This follows a year of surveillance by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development to ensure the pest has not spread since it was first found across two adjoining tenanted properties at Fremantle Ports in November 2019.

Surveillance across the area will continue and quarantine restrictions will remain in place for the Fremantle Ports area north of the Swan River, including Rous Head.

Department invertebrate pests manager John van Schagen praised both the Fremantle community and industry for its co-operation with the response.

“We’ve had three rounds of surveillance and not detected any fire ants in residential areas, so we’ve now tightened the boundaries to a smaller Fremantle Ports area, north of the Swan River,” he said. “This is where the initial infestation was detected.”

Movement restrictions associated with the revised Quarantine Area continue to apply, with removal of any host material from the area requiring a movement permit from the department.

Host material, which the ants could be in, includes potted plants, plant mulch, bark and wood chips, hay and straw, manure, soil, grass/turf or other organic matter.

DPIRD officers will also kick off a fourth round of red imported fire ant surveillance this month at residential properties in the Fremantle area.

“Properties have been randomly selected to receive an inspection,” Mr van Schagen said.

“Permission will be sought to access gardens and outdoor areas so that our inspectors can undertake necessary surveillance for this pest.

“Personnel will carry identification cards and drive marked surveillance vehicles.”

If red imported fire ant became established in Western Australia, it could severely damage the local environment, agricultural industries, and Australia’s outdoor lifestyle. The ant inflicts a painful, fiery sting.

For more information on the red imported fire ant surveillance program, along with a map and specific boundaries for the revised Quarantine Area, visit the DPIRD website

Suspect ant sightings should be reported to the department using its MyPestGuideTM Reporter app. Alternatively, contact the Pest and Disease Information Service on +61 (0)8 9368 3080 or

revised Quarantine Area
A map of the revised Quarantine Area, which now applies to a section of Fremantle Ports on the north side of the Swan River.

Media contacts:

Jodie Thomson, media liaison                        (08) 9368 3937