Red imported fire ant

Page last updated: Saturday, 21 October 2023 - 10:24am

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Red imported fire ant (RIFA), Solenopsis invicta, is one of the most serious and invasive ant pests in the world, because of its harmful effects on people, agriculture, flora and fauna, infrastructure and recreational activities.

Western Australia was declared free of the RIFA in October 2023, following a comprehensive 2 year eradication and surveillance program by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.

If RIFA became established in WA, it could severely damage the local environment, economy and Australia's outdoor lifestyle. RIFA inflict a painful, fiery sting, which in rare cases can cause an acute allergic reaction.


The invasive ant pest was first detected at the Fremantle Port in November 2019 as part of the surveillance being undertaken for the National Browsing Ant Eradication Program.

A 2-year comprehensive eradication and surveillance program was undertaken by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development. This included six rounds of visual surveillance involving hand collection, lures, pitfall traps, and the use of specifically trained odour detection dogs from Queensland.

As part of the eradication effort more than 3,500 premises, including container and ferry terminals, industrial properties, fishing wharves, parks and recreational spaces and residential properties were inspected multiple times, with over 14,000 samples collected for identification.

Support and co-operation from Fremantle Port and their tenants, the City of Fremantle, Town of East Fremantle, local residents and businesses during the surveillance, baiting and quarantine activities was crucial to the success of the response.

Western Australia was declared free of red imported fire ant on 21 October 2023.

It is important that any further detections of RIFA or any unusual animal or plant pests or diseases are reported immediately via the MyPestGuide Reporter app so that the pest can be contained and eradicated efficiently and effectively.