Authorities are changing tack in their approach to fire ants as the super pest continues its spread.
A plan agreed to by agriculture ministers last month includes tackling the pest using an outside-in approach where they have been detected in Queensland.
“It’s a plan that will see a horseshoe configuration … where they’ll be suppressed and eradicated,” Queensland Agriculture Minister Mark Furner said, adding that the previous strategy worked from west to east.
The treatment program to prevent queens from reproducing will span from Moreton Bay in the north, west to the Lockyer Valley, east into the Gold Coast and south to the Tweed Shire.
A 2021 review of the eradication strategy released last month stressed the urgent need to increase funding and recommended a radical change in approach.
The review identified at least $3 billion was needed over the next five years to wipe out the pest.
By the end of the year more than $400 million will have been spent over the past six years fighting the super pest, but the states and Commonwealth are yet to confirm how much more they will spend.
While the new national response includes tackling fire ants from all directions, biosecurity zones in Queensland remain unchanged.
“Our program is however conducting an extensive review of the zones to ensure they align with the intent of the endorsed response plan,” a spokesperson for the National Fire Ant Eradication Program said.
Mr Furner said there would be a crackdown on people doing the wrong thing, with rule-breakers facing fines of half a million dollars.
He said a recent fire ant nest discovery at a pony club on the Gold Coast was linked to human movement.
Several significant detections have been made in south-east Queensland since April,
Ashley Bacon from the eradication program said treatments would be carried out three times a year over the next two years along the boundary of the “horseshoe” containment area.
Dogs will also be used to sniff out the ants. -AAP