Producers are being urged to be on their guard for fire ants in hay or feed sourced from South East Queensland after a truck carrying infested bales was intercepted hundreds of kilometres outside fire ant biosecurity zones.
The truck, which was intercepted last month, was travelling from the south east corner to central western Queensland.
National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program general manager Graeme Dudgeon said it was a tough message to deliver when stock feed was so important to farmers.
"However the last thing our struggling farmers need is a biosecurity problem to add to their already challenging situation," he said.
"It is important that everyone knows how to identify the pest and reports any suspect ants to the program.
"We are currently working with a company, located within the biosecurity zones, to facilitate the treatment and transport of 4300 hay bales before it ceases operations and closes its doors.
"We want to help farmers get the feed they need, but if the product comes from a fire ant infested area then both the farmer and supplier needs to ensure the risk mitigation measures are followed."
Producer can avoid spreading fire ants in hay by raking the hay twice, no more than 24 hours apart; baling withing 24 hours of the last raking and removing it from the paddock it was baled in within 24 hours.
Hay should also be covered in a way to prevent infestation and stored above ground level or on a fire ant resistant survance, with a chemical product applied around the storage area.
"If you receive hay produced within the South East Queensland fire ant biosecurity zone, it is essential that you confirm these steps have been taken," Mr Dudgeon said.
"You also need to know how to identify fire ants, check your yard and report any suspect nests.
"Penalties for moving fire ant carriers are significant with fines of up to $5,000 per offence. Don't risk a fine or further spread of this terrible super pest."
The state government-run 10 year eradication program is targeting the aggressive, highly-adaptive pest, which originally comes from South America.
The plan is currently focusing on the western edge of the infestation in the Lockyer Valley and will gradually work through Ipswich, Logan, the Gold Coast and Redlands over the coming years.
For more information about fire ants, how to identify them, report suspect ants or to speak to a compliance officer visit daf.qld.gov.au/fireants or call 13 25 23.