NC Commissioner Steve Troxler: Fire Ant Quarantine Area Expanded

NC Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler says with the addition of Warren County as of January 1, portions or all of 75 of the state’s 100 counties now fall under fire ant quarantine rules.

  • By restricting the movement of certain soil, wood and plant products, we hope to slow the spread of this pest into non-infested areas as best we can.
  • Anyone who has ever accidentally walked into a mound of fire ants, knows how painful their sting can be. They are harmful to both humans and livestock, and they are considered an aggressive pest of farmlands, pastures, residential areas and wildlife.
  • Fire ants were first found in Brunswick County in 1957. Since that time they have spread across the state and can be found in the eastern and central parts of the state.
  • There is also a four-county pocket in the far western portion of the state where fire ants are found. Counties in the northeastern part of the state are the only ones not in the quarantined area.
  • So what does that mean for folks in the quarantine zone? Residents and business owners in these counties will need to obtain a permit before moving plants, sod and related equipment into or through non-infested areas.
  • Items that will require a permit include nursery stock, sod, soil, hay and straw, logs or pulpwood with soil, and soil-moving equipment.
  • Folks can get a permit from a local plant protection specialist or by contacting our Plant Protection Section at 1-800-206-9333.
  • Failure to obtain the needed inspections and certifications may result in the issuance of a stop-sale notice and rejection or destruction of the regulated item.
  • The easiest way for these and other plant pests or invasive species move is with the help of humans. They literally hitch a ride from one location to another through the movement of these products.
  • Residential and industrial development also add to the potential for the spread as landscaping materials and equipment are moved. Our mild winters also help this pest thrives, along with the lack of natural predators.
  • Please contact our Plant Industry if you need to move any of the plant, soil, wood or equipment, and do your part to help slow the spread of this pest.