Fire ants have been found within kilometres of the NSW border in the southernmost detection of the invasive pest.
The discovery of a nest at Tallebudgera on the Gold Coast has authorities on high alert and prompted further calls for fast-tracked funding.
The nest, which has since been destroyed, was found on private land believed to be being used as a pony club five kilometres from the border.
Fire ants have been in Australia since 2001 when they were found in Brisbane.
But there have been several recent significant detections in south-east Queensland, including on North Stradbroke Island where 21 nests were found across three properties at Dunwich earlier this year.
The detection at Tallebudgera has prompted the Invasive Species Council to repeat its calls for increased eradication efforts.
“This means that NSW is now at extreme risk of being invaded,” the council’s Reece Pianta said.
“The distance is now close enough for a single queen ant’s flight to spark a fire ant infestation across the border.”
A meeting of agriculture ministers in Perth this month failed to agree on funding to combat the super pest, despite identifying the “very real threat” it poses and endorsing a new response plan.
A recently released review of Australia’s fire ant eradication program found at least $3 billion was needed over the next five years to wipe out the pest.
The Invasive Species Council said the latest outbreak should be a massive wake-up call to Australia’s agriculture ministers.
“They need to stop mucking around and get on with an urgent ramp-up of the eradication program,” Mr Pianta said.
“There are no excuses for further delay, underfunding and inaction.”
Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt said he was acutely aware of the ongoing risks.
“That’s why agriculture ministers agreed to fast-track funding,” Senator Watt said.
“By the end of the year, more than $400 million will have been spent over the past six years trying to stop the march of the fire ant.”
A biosecurity control order now prohibits the movement of materials that could bring the ant into NSW.
Mulch, soil, baled hay, turf and other high-risk material cannot be moved from within a five kilometre radius of the site without inspection and certification by Queensland authorities.