Lincoln County and parts of Catawba County now fall under state quarantine rules for the imported fire ant as part of a continuing effort to monitor the spread of this pest and address control measures. With today’s announcement by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the quarantine now includes portions or entire areas of 71 counties.
Effective Jan. 1, 2014, the imported fire ant quarantine is revised to include the addition of all of Lincoln County and the area south of Interstate 40 from the Iredell County line to the Burke County line in Catawba County. Under the rules, residents and business owners in the affected areas will now need to obtain a permit before moving plants, sod and related equipment into or through non-infested areas.
Items requiring a permit include sod, soil, hay and straw, nursery plant material, logs or pulpwood with soil, and soil-moving equipment. Movement of infested materials could result in the establishment and secondary spread of the pest to non-infested areas. Certificates can be obtained from a local plant protection specialist or by contacting the Plant Protection Section at 800-206-9333 or 919-707-3730.
“It is important for operators within the quarantined area to contact the NCDA&CS Plant Industry Division to obtain the needed inspections and certifications for movement of regulated articles,” said Vernon Cox, director of the division. “Fire ants can be harmful to humans and livestock. It is critical we continue proactive efforts to slow down fire ant movement into non-infested areas of the state.”
The imported fire ant first entered the United States through Alabama in 1918. It was first identified in the southeastern portion of North Carolina in Brunswick County in 1957. Since its introduction, it has spread north to additional areas in the state, becoming recognized as an aggressive pest of farmlands, pastures, residential areas and wildlife. The imported fire ant is considered to be a nuisance and a health concern to humans, livestock and wildlife due to its painful sting.
For a map of the quarantine area, go to http://www.ncagr.gov/plantindustry/plant/entomology/documents/FireAntMap2014.pdf