Australia is investing nearly half a billion dollars to stop the spread of fire ants.

Originating from South America, red imported fire ants have become a significant threat since their introduction nearly 23 years ago at the Port of Brisbane. 

Despite attempts to contain them, they have spread throughout the city and into the Gold Coast, posing a threat to both life and the cherished outdoor lifestyle of Australians.

The infestation has even reached northern New South Wales, with isolated outbreaks detected in Murwillumbah and Wardell, likely spread through infested topsoil moved from Queensland. 

To combat the spread, authorities are implementing a strategy that includes rigorous baiting programs and movement controls on soil and mulch from affected areas.

The National Fire Ant Eradication Program says that while the ants' spread is slower in Australia compared to other countries like the United States and China, where they have wreaked havoc, eradication efforts are needed to prevent significant health impacts and protect the environment.

Experts warn of the ants' voracious appetite for crops and their aggressive nature, which can disrupt outdoor activities and pose serious health risks. 

With their ability to sting multiple times and induce severe allergic reactions, including anaphylactic shock, the ants' presence could have devastating consequences if left unchecked.

Despite the difficulties, authorities are confident in their approach, citing successful eradication of multiple incursions in the past. 

However, the scale of the current outbreak underscores the need for sustained and concerted efforts to combat this formidable foe.

More details are accessible here.