Tramp ant eradication programs underway at Port of Darwin and Brisbane airport

​The National Biosecurity Management Group (NBMG) met on 17 December 2015 to discuss the incursion of browsing ant detected at the Port of Darwin, Northern Territory and incursion of red imported fire ant (RIFA) detected at Brisbane airport, Queensland.

The NBMG unanimously agreed to support the response plans to eradicate these environmentally significant pests. A technical Consultative Committee agreed that there is a high degree of confidence that both incursions can be eradicated. The cost of eradication for both responses are to be shared by all states, territories and the Commonwealth.

The Northern Territory and Queensland Governments have commenced the response to these incursions. A range of techniques are being used to contain and eradicate the ant infestations, including direct nest injection, on-ground baiting and surveillance of the area around the detection site.

Anyone who suspects that they have found an invasive ant population, needs to report it to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881 as soon as possible. 


Browsing ants were detected at the Port of Darwin in August 2015.  There are four infected properties that have been quarantined by the Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries and response activities are underway.

Browsing ants (Lepisiota frauenfeldi) are exotic and have not established in Australia. They form large colonies and eat and displace native ant species, as well as other insects in the infested area. They are not harmful to people or pets.

Red imported fire ants were detected at Brisbane airport and reported by a vigilant member of the public in September 2015. The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries immediately destroyed the nest and response activities are underway. Population analysis of this colony confirmed the infestation is not genetically related to any known infestations in Australia, and is a new incursion of fire ants.

Red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) is one of the world’s most invasive pests which rapidly establishes in a wide range of environments, impacting natural fauna, agriculture, public infrastructure, human health and social amenity.

More information about these eradication programmes can be found on the Outbreak website.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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