Cameras step up war on fire ants

EFFORTS to eradicate fire ants from the Ipswich region have been stepped up with the introduction of high-tech heat seeking cameras.

In a world first, Biosecurity Queensland has spent $1.2 million in importing the US technology, which pinpoints fire ant nests from the sky.

The cameras - a combination of thermal, near infrared and high definition imagining - combine with Australia programming technology to detect fire mounds from 500 feet in the air.

Agriculture, Food and Regional Economies Minister Tim Mulherin said it was an exciting milestone in the campaign to eradicate the dangerous imported pests.

"The cameras will combine a range of readings to scan the ground and identify the exact location of fire ant nests," Mr Mulherin said.

"Their nests are significantly hotter than the surrounding area so they can be seen quite clearly with this new thermal technology."

He said a single helicopter with the camera could check 750 hectares in just one day.

"The data is downloaded to a computer overnight and ground crews are despatched to confirm and destroy suspected fire ant nests using precise GPS co-ordinates," he said.

The cameras arrived in Brisbane on Tuesday, and have already been mounted on to a government helicopter.

Ipswich West MP Wayne Wendt said this state of the art technology would be invaluable in the battle against fire ants in the Ipswich area.

The first results from the cameras are expected next month.

 

Fire ant threat

  • Fire ants can harm pets, animals and damage crops.
  • Can be 2-6mm in length, copper brown colour with a dark abdomen
  • Report potential nests at www.biosecurity.qld.gov.au or call 13 25 23.

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