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QTPA Member Alert |Springfield Primary Student Spies ‘Fire Ant’ Nest in School Playground (25/3/2013)

Springfield Primary Student Spies ‘Fire Ant’ Nest in School Playground

Seven-year-old Bailey knew straight away the ants her friend almost stepped on while running in the playground at recess could be Fire Ants. The Grade 2 student wasted no time in letting Springfield Central State School Principal Angela Gooley know what she had seen.

“Bailey came to me and said; Mrs Gooley I´ve just found an ant´s nest and I think they could be fire ants,” Principal Angela Gooley said. “There were a lot of ants coming out. I wasn´t sure if they were fire ants, but they did have red on them,” Bailey said. Fearing they might be fire ants, Principal Angela Gooley cleared students away from the area and declared it out of bounds until the ants could be identified. “We rang Biosecurity Queensland and they came straight away and also found a few other nests close by which is great,” Principal Gooley said.

Last year Springfield Central State School was one of the first schools to have Biosecurity Queensland´s new fire ant education show entitled ´Aka the Fire Ant Tracker´ come and educate the students about fire ants. “We´re in a hotspot area so our entire Prep to 7 grades attended the program with Aka. It was highly interactive and informative and the kids loved it,” she said. The Aka school show educates children about the risks fire ants pose and how to identify them. Principal Angela Gooley said she used the knowledge learned during the show when checking the nest in the playground with the school´s groundsman.

“We stamped around the outside of the nest and they all came out quickly and they were the colour we had learned during the Aka show last year and they were a variety of different sizes which was our biggest trigger,” she said. Principal Gooley commended the fire ant education program for school children so they understand what pests can cause them harm.
“For someone of Bailey´s age who attended the show in August last year to identify almost six month later is pretty good for us, so it´s something we´ll do again in the future,” she said.

Biosecurity Queensland´s Craig Jennings said thanks to the quick-thinking actions of the school, the students were safe from being bitten. “We have invested a lot of effort in recent years in educating children about the dangers of fire ants and how to identify them – this is proof of value,” he said. The Aka school show features the world´s first odour-detection dog trained to find fire ants. “My favourite bit was when Aka spotted the ants and knew what they were,” Bailey said. “So we´re calling Bailey our Super Ant Finder,” said Principal Gooley.

“We rely heavily on the community being our eyes and ears when tracking down remaining fire ant infestations and it´s always gratifying when fire ants are reported to us,” said Mr Jennings. “If children see any suspicious ants they should as Bailey did, let an adult know. Biosecurity Queensland will take care of getting rid of any fire ants and survey the area for any further nests.”

Fire ants are 2-6mm in size, coppery-brown with a darker abdomen and inflict a painful sting. They threaten agriculture, our outdoor lifestyle and stop children from playing safely in their backyards.  They can be found in/on high-risk materials, which include:

  • construction and landscaping materials
  • soil, sand and pot plants
  • mulch and green waste
  • baled hay and stray
  • machinery and earthmoving equipment.

For more information on fire ants, or to book a site inspection for non-flood related soil disturbances or movement of high-risk materials, visit or call 13 25 23.


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