What Do You Know About the Imported Fire Ant Quarantine Program?
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), two species of Imported Fire Ants (IFA) were introduced into the United States at the port of Mobile, Alabama. The two species were the black imported fire ant, Solenopsis richteri Forel and the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren. The black fire ant was imported in 1918 and the red fire ant was imported in late 1930s. The 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. In a few of the states, not all counties are infested as shown on the map of the quarantine zones. Most recently, the USDA extended the IFA quarantine areas to include Warren County in North Carolina and Cumberland, Hamblen, Jefferson, and parts of Trousdale counties in Tennessee.
What does this mean? Soils imported from those quarantine zones must be handled according to the rules established by the USDA IFA quarantine program. Environmental laboratories who analyze foreign soils are familiar with the foreign soils permit requirement administered by the USDA. The samples must be imported/handled by permit and treated as outlined by the USDA IFA quarantine program prior to disposal of samples. Be sure to download your IFA manual!!!