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NUMBERS: 400,000

The number of hectares now covered by the imported red fire ant infestation. It was first detected in Australia in 2001. To put that into perspective, 400,000ha is roughly double the size of the ACT. Conservation groups say that if left unchecked, fire ants in Australia would cause approximately 140,000 medical consultations and 3000 anaphylactic reactions each year. Fortunately, federal and state agriculture ministers last week pledged almost $400 million to try to eradicate the destructive fire ant for good.