Fire ant identification
If you suspect fire ants
Don't touch the ants or the nest, or try to treat the nest yourself. If you have been stung, refer to the first aid advice below and seek medical attention if allergic to insect stings. Call Biosecurity Queensland immediately. Early detection is essential to prevent the spread of fire ants.
Don't touch the ants or the nest, or try to treat the nest yourself. If you have been stung, refer to the first aid advice below and seek medical attention if allergic to insect stings. Call Biosecurity Queensland immediately.
Early detection is essential to prevent the spread of fire ants.
Call us 13 25 23
- Fire ants range in size from 2-6 mm. Nests typically contain ants in a range of sizes. (Photograph courtesy of Texas A&M University)
- Fire ants are reddish-brown with a darker abdomen.
- Nests do not have visible entry or exit holes.
- Nests can be found under and around material, such as logs and rocks. When this log is moved, the internal honeycomb structure of the nest is revealed.
First detected in the Brisbane area in February 2001, these South American ants pose a serious social, economic and environmental threat. Fire ants have been declared a notifiable pest under the Plant Protection Act 1989 and landholders must report suspected sightings of fire ants on their property to Biosecurity Queensland.
Watch a video about how to identify fire ants and their nests
|Location of nests||
Fire ant mounds are not always easily identifiable. They can be up to 40cm high, but may also be flat and look like a small patch of disturbed soil. They are usually found in open areas such as lawns, pastures, along roadsides and unused cropland.
Nests are also found next to or under other objects on the ground, such as timber, logs, rocks, pavers or bricks.
|Distribution in Australia||
Fire ants have been found in South East Queensland, around Brisbane, Logan, Ipswich, Redland and Scenic Rim. Isolated infestations have been found north of the Gold Coast and in the Lockyer Valley. View a map of the current fire ant restricted area.
|First aid advice||
Stings are painful, and the burning or itching sensation can last up to an hour. Victims of multiple stings may feel as if their body is on fire.
After several hours small pustules may form at sting sites. These may become itchy and can take up to 10 days to heal. There is a risk of secondary infection if the pustules break.
If stung by fire ants:
In extremely rare cases fire ant stings can cause a severe and sometimes fatal allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).
Seek medical attention if showing any sign of adverse reaction to stings.
|What to do if you think you see a fire ant||
Avoid contact with the ants.
- Fire ant identification card (PDF, 707 kB)
- Fire ant information brochure (PDF, 440 kB)
- Fire ant restricted area map
- Image gallery
- Biology and ecology of fire ants
- Impacts of fire ants
- Frequently asked questions about fire ants
- Report a fire ant sighting