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In 1989, the first fire ant infestation was detected in the Commonwealth of Virginia. To date, all fire ant infestations appear to have been introduced into Virginia on nursery stock or other plant products from infested areas or by natural spread from nearby infested areas. With assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the VDACS Office of Plant Industry Services attempts to eradicate each fire ant occurrence. However, when the pest is thoroughly established in an area, the infested localities are included in Virginia’s Imported Fire Ant Quarantine and VDACS will no longer treat infestations within the quarantined area, concentrating instead on new infestations that may appear outside the quarantine area.

In 2009, the fire ant quarantine was established in Virginia and included much of the tidewater area. From 2017 to 2022 survey data indicated fire ants were spreading and the quarantine was expanded in 2019 and again in 2022. The current quarantine covers 12 counties and 11 independent cities in the southeast and central part of the state.

Fire ant mounds are typically found in warm, sunny locations such as landscape beds, lawns, around trees and shrubs, along sidewalk cracks and against buildings. If disturbed, these ants are generally aggressive and can inflict painful stings.

If you suspect a fire ant infestation within the quarantine area, please use caution and contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension office for treatment recommendations. If you suspect a fire ant infestation outside of the quarantine area, contact the VDACS Office of Plant Industry Services.

Quarantine Information

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, except 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
  • Logs and pulpwood with soil attached

Individuals who plan to move regulated articles out of the quarantined area should contact VDACS’ Office of Plant Industry Services to determine options for certifying regulated articles as free of imported fire ants.

More Information

David Gianino

Click here for Office of Plant Industry Services contact information.

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