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Red Imported Fire Ant nest at Napier treated

DATE 9 June 2006

Red Imported Fire Ant nest detected at Napier treated today.

Biosecurity New Zealand has today endeavoured to exterminate a Red Imported Fire Ant (RIFA) nest found at Whirinaki near Napier.

“RIFA is a pest we know a lot about and have the tools to deal with. The way forward from here will involve further surveillance of the site with ant baits and traps,” Biosecurity New Zealand Senior Adviser Sonya Bissmire said.

There have been two previous RIFA responses in border control areas, one at Auckland International Airport in 2001, and one at the Port of Napier in 2004. Both were at the single nest stage and were successfully destroyed.

“This latest detection was made by a staff member at the site. What we know about this situation right now is that there is one large nest. Treating and excavating the nest will tell us a lot more about how long it might have been there. Forensic examination of the ants will also provide further information, though that will take some time, Ms Bissmire said.

“At this stage there is no obvious link with the earlier Napier incursion, though investigations are continuing. Up to 12 staff will be involved in the programme in coming days, examining the site and surrounding area further. We’ll also be talking to residents in the immediate area as part of that process, and also to distribute information to them and answer any questions they might have.

“There’s no need to be alarmed, but what is really important is that people do not disturb potential nests. RIFA construct mounds of fine granulated soil. Disturbing a nest can prompt the ants to remove the queen and start another colony elsewhere.

RIFA are tiny, but aggressive, reddish-brown ants with a fierce sting. The stings are uncomfortable, but not dangerous to most people. As with any sting, there is also a chance of allergic reaction. If concerned, people should seek medical advice.

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To report a suspected exotic pest or disease, call the Emergency Hotline on 0800 80 99 66.

ENDS

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