WESTERN Australian authorities are surveying Fremantle Port and surrounds following the detection of red imported fire ants, an invasive ant species.

A native to South America, red imported fire ant is considered one of the world’s worst invasive ants, as it can form “super colonies” with multiple queens that develop and spread quickly and can harm humans.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development has treated several linked nests at Fremantle Port to destroy the ants and prevent further spread.

It is also surveying the port and surroundings for any signs of red imported fire ant.


Fremantle Port workers, local residents and businesses are being asked to be alert and report any unfamiliar ants in the area.

According to the Department, red imported fires ant resemble common native ants, are reddish brown with a darker abdomen, and between two to six millimetres long. They are said to come in an “unusual variety of sizes”.

They can inflict a painful, fiery sting.

Suspect ant sightings should be reported to the department using its MyPestGuideTM Reporter app or online at mypestguide.agric.wa.gov.au, alternatively contact the Pest and Disease Information Service on +61 (0)8 9368 3080 or padis@dpird.wa.gov.au

Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan said this was the first time red imported fire ant had been found in WA.

“The pest poses a significant threat to the environment, agriculture, the economy, human health and Australia’s outdoor lifestyle,” Ms MacTiernan said.

“The State Government has moved quickly to destroy the ants, and we are undertaking surveillance around Fremantle to determine whether they have spread.

“The public have a critical role to play in this situation: we are calling on Fremantle residents and workers to keep an eye out and to report any unfamiliar ants, to help protect WA from this pest.”