The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) announces the expansion of the Virginia Imported Fire Ant Quarantine to include Charlotte, Dinwiddie, Halifax, Lunenburg, and Sussex counties. The expansion is based on the agency’s imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta Buren and Solenopsis richteri Forel, and their hybrids) surveys which indicate that the invasive pest has become established in these counties. The expansion of the quarantine is necessary to slow the spread of this insect pest to un-infested areas of the Commonwealth. Once established, the imported fire ant has the potential to spread to un-infested areas, either through natural means or through the artificial movement of infested articles.
Under the terms of the quarantine, articles that are capable of transporting the imported fire ant (regulated articles) are prohibited from moving out of the quarantined area unless certified as free of imported fire ant. Regulated articles include, but are not limited to:
- Any life stage of imported fire ant;
- Soil (excludes soil shipped in original containers after commercial preparation);
- Plants with roots with soil attached and rhizomes with soil attached;
- Grass sod;
- Used soil-moving equipment (unless free of all non-compacted soil);
- Used farm equipment (unless free of all non-compacted soil);
- Hay and straw stored in direct contact with the ground;
- Honey bee hives stored in direct contact with the ground; and
- Logs and pulpwood with soil attached.
Businesses located in Charlotte, Dinwiddie, Halifax, Lunenburg, and Sussex counties, along with previously quarantined localities, who are shipping to locations outside of the quarantined area are required to follow the USDA-approved treatment and shipping options as outlined in the Quarantine Treatments for Nursery Stock, Grass Sod, and Related Materials manual. Businesses may enter into a compliance agreement with VDACS to facilitate shipping regulated articles in accordance with the quarantine provisions. Click here to see if your location is within the Virginia Imported Fire Ant Quarantine.
Imported fire ants are an invasive species and are a threat to Virginia’s agriculture and natural resources, as they may damage crops, agricultural equipment, and impact wildlife. As an urban pest, imported fire ants are a nuisance pest and can cause allergic reactions including rare instances of anaphylactic shock in humans.
For additional information regarding the Virginia Imported Fire Ant Quarantine or provisions of a VDACS imported fire ant compliance agreement please click here.