Arkansas fire ant quarantine area expanded by four counties

The state quarantine for imported fire ants has been extended to four additional counties: Logan, Prairie, Sebastian, and White.

The quarantine is necessary to prevent the artificial movement of these invasive ants into uninfected areas. Movements of regulated items from quarantined to non-quarantined areas are restricted unless special measures are taken to ensure that the regulated items are fire ants free. Controlled items can move freely within the quarantine area. The list of regulated items includes:

⦁ Nurseries with soil or potting soil

⦁ sod

⦁ Bales of hay stored in contact with the ground

⦁ Balled straw stored in contact with the ground

⦁ soil

⦁ Used tillage equipment.

There are now 43 counties of Arkansas in the current federal quarantine area, according to Kelly Loftin, an extension entomologist with the University of Arkansas Agricultural Systems Department. The USDA notes that two species of imported fire ants were introduced into the United States from South America at the port of Mobile, Alabama. Both species probably came into port in soil that was used as ballast in cargo ships.

Today fire ants infest more than 367,000,000 acres in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Puerto Rico. The black imported fire ant, Solenopsis richteri Forel, arrived around 1918 and the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren, arrived in the late 1930s.

Loftin has spent years studying methods to control the pests and teaching Arkansansen how to protect their families, farms, and themselves from this invasive species.

Arkansas isn’t the only state where quarantine has been extended, Loftin added. Three counties were added in North Carolina, one in Oklahoma, and five in Virginia.

The supplements are in response to surveys on imported fire ants conducted by state regulatory agencies in coordination with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA announced the expansion in June.

“Agriculture is threatened by imported red fire ants for several reasons. These ants feed on the buds and fruits of numerous crops, particularly corn, soybeans and okra, ”added Paul Shell, Plant Inspector and Quarantine Manager for the Arkansas Department of Agriculture. “Large nests in fields disrupt and damage equipment during cultivation and harvesting.

Additional information, including interactive maps, is available through the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service:

You can find Arcana-specific information on the fire ant and other quarantines here:

To learn more about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service representative or visit They can also be found on Twitter and Instagram at @AR_Extension. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture’s research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website:

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