Eagleby ant invasion falls on deaf ears

Eagleby ant invasion falls on deaf ears

An elderly Eagleby couple, Barry and Kerry Carlton, watched in horror as fire ants overran their 17-acre property, despite reaching out for help.

Hundreds of mounds, some over a foot tall, dotted their backyard, with more nests likely hidden at the property’s rear.

But following inquiries from MyCity Logan, authorities have stepped in – offering tailored support to alleviate the couple’s plight.

The Carltons are both in their 80s, and first contacted the authorities in 2022 when they first noticed the invasive ant species following flooding rain.

While they received fire ant treatment, it was in the form of only one 150g container posted at a time – stretched over several months.

“They sent us one bottle, then a few weeks later we got one more, and then another one a few weeks later,” Ms Carlton said.

“Next door got a box of ten, the person down the road got a carton of four, but we got one.

“I called them and told them we were out of bait, but we didn’t get an answer, so I went out and had buy my own.”

The treatment Ms Carlton bought for herself is $60 and advertised for white ants, but it holds 2.5kg of treatment.

Meanwhile, a family friend who lives nearby on a much smaller block gave them her containers after she received several at once.

Ms Carlton said authorities had previously used helicopters to treat the nearby rural area in Eagleby, but stopped due to “too many complaints” from nearby residents.

Mr Carlton said a treatment crew visited the property a few times at the beginning when “there were only a few” mounds but had not been back since.

Last week, MyCity Logan questioned the government-run National Fire Ant Eradication Program over the support accessible to the Carltons.

The next day, a spokesperson for the program said they had spoken with the property owner.

“Our field teams will visit the property on Wednesday 29 May 2024 to conduct fire ant treatment using utility terrain vehicles,” the spokesperson said.

“We will also provide the property owner with self-treatment shakers to spot manage high-traffic areas on their property, including their house boundary.”

She said Eagleby was classed as a “suppression area”.

“Property owners and occupiers in this area are encouraged to control fire ants by self-treating the land they own or manage, ahead of eradication efforts,” she said.

“Keeping your family, friends, pets, and animals safe begins with treating your property for fire ants, especially if you live in a known fire ant area.

“Early treatment is key if you find fire ants.

“This proactive approach prevents the pests from building more nests and infesting your property and the community.”

Beyond the potential dangers to native flora and fauna, The Carltons said they were concerned about the safety of their granddaughter.

“We can’t tell her to just go and play in the yard,” Mr Carlton said.

“She’s really got to watch what she’s doing.”

Ms Carlton said the safety of their horses was also compromised.

“They seem to know where the ants are, but I can’t put their rugs on them,” she said.

“If the ants get under their rugs, they’ll run through the fences and kill themselves.”

She said the government had missed its opportunity to eradicate the ants.

“Our government could have stopped this, but now they’re in New South Wales,” she said.

“The government caused this – we didn’t – so they should fix it.”


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