The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) is expanding the Imported Fire Ant Quarantine in December of 2022 to include the counties of Halifax, Charlotte, Lunenburg, Dinwiddie and Sussex. While the quarantine will not take place until the end of the year, VDACS is working hard to communicate with the impacted locality staff, industry groups, state agencies and other organizations who may be impacted by the quarantine.
In a recent letter from VDACS, the Commissioner shared the following information with us. VDACS conducted surveys that indicate imported fire ant populations have become established in those localities and the quarantine is necessary to prevent the artificial spread of this insect pest to uninfested areas of the Commonwealth. It is anticipated that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will also expand the federal Imported Fire Ant Quarantine which will restrict the interstate movement of regulated articles from these same Virginia localities.
Once established, the imported fire ant has the potential to spread to uninfested areas, either through natural means or through the artificial movement of infested articles. The quarantine is intended to prevent the artificial spread of this pest. Under provisions of the quarantine, regulated articles are prohibited from moving out of the quarantined area unless they are certified as free of imported fire ant.
Once the quarantine has been expanded, businesses located in the counties of Halifax, Charlotte, Lunenburg, Dinwiddie and Sussex that are shipping to locations outside of the quarantined area are required to follow the USDA-approved treatment and shipping options which are outlined in the Quarantine Treatments for Nursery Stock, Grass Sod, and Related Materials manual; the manual can be found on the USDA website. Businesses may enter into a compliance agreement with VDACS to facilitate shipping those regulated articles in accordance with the quarantine. Please see the map below of Virginia’s current Imported Fire Ant Quarantine and expansion of the new localities.