Red imported fire ant

​​Current situation

Red imported fire ant (RIFA) (Solenopsis invicta) is one of the worst invasive species to reach Australia's shores, and continues to be the target of a national cost-shared eradication programs.


There has been a new introduction of RIFA at the Port of Brisbane in Queensland.

The detection was made on 4 March 2021. Multiple specimens were hand collected along a fence line at an Approved Arrangement facility.

On 10 March 2021 odour detector dogs located the main nest. A nearby satellite nest has also been detected. Genetic analysis by Biosecurity Queensland has confirmed the infestation originated from the United States of America and is not genetically related to other infestations in Australia.

The nest and the satellite nest were treated immediately. Interim movement controls have been issued for the known infested area and continued surveillance activities are underway.

RIFA was first detected in Australia in February 2001 at the Port of Brisbane and in the south western suburbs of Brisbane, South-east Queensland.

Spread from the initial Brisbane detection led to infest​ations around the greater Brisbane area including Ipswich, Logan and Redlands. Infestations have also been found in the Scenic Rim, Gold Coast and Lockyer Valley areas.

The South-east Queensland incursion is subject to nationally cost-shared eradication program.

Five separate red imported fire ant incursions in Queensland have been successfully eradicated, including, Yarwun, Port of Gladstone, Brisbane Airport and 2 incursions at Port of Brisbane.

The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has further information:

New South Wales

RIFA was detected at Port Botany, Sydney in November 2014 and was subject to a successful nationally cost-shared eradication response.

The Port Botany incursion was declared eradicated in November 2016.

Further information on the RIFA eradication response at Port Botany can be found on the NSW Department of Primary Industries website.

Western Australia

RIFA was detected at Fremantle Port in November 2019 and is subject to a nationally cost-shared eradication response.

Treatment was undertaken immediately and surveillance activities are underway. A quarantine area has been established to prevent any potential spread of RIFA.

Further information on the RIFA eradication response at Fremantle Port can be found on the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development website.

Reporting detections

RIFA represents a serious threat to our health, environment and economy. Members of the community and industry play an important role by reporting suspected detections. Early reporting is a vital part of preventing RIFA from establishing and spreading. RIFA is a notifiable pest in most Australian states and territories, which means there is a legal obligation to report suspected detections. This obligation applies to everyone, including individuals and organisations.

Anyone who suspects that they have seen RIFA or any other type of exotic invasive ants should report sightings to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881. This number will put you in contact with your local department of primary industries or agriculture.

About RIFA

RIFA is a serious exotic pest that can inflict painful bites on people, pets and livestock. It is one of the most well studied and notorious ants in the world. The extensive damage caused to ecological and agricultural systems by RIFA is well documented.

RIFA is native to several South American countries, such as Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina.

RIFA videos

Hear from people who have lived with RIFA in the United States and find out why we need to eradicate it:

Biosecurity Queensland also has helpful videos on how to identify RIFA and what is involved in the treatment:

Close up of a red imported fire ant
Photo courtesy of the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries