Imported Fire Ant (IFA) have pestered southern Arkansas since the late 1950's. Whether it bites or stings, either are irritating to humans, their domestic pets, livestock and wildlife. They have also affected human life indirectly by destructively undermining roadways, shorting our electrical air conditioning units and altering a number of outdoor activities, to mention a few.
To understand the failure of attempting to control IFA, one must understand the biology and adaptivity of this pest. Please see the attached information sheet. The natural movement northward mainly via mating flights of 1/4 mile or better coupled with the sheer number of these flights make them extremely hard, if not impossible, to stop. Cleared acreage can quickly be re-infested by these flights. Colonizing deep in the ground protects the queen from man’s , as well as, natures attempts to limit the spread. They are very adaptive in colonizing by utilizing artificial heat from southern exposures of buildings, concrete, asphalt, etc. to extend their range farther north than scientists thought possible. That’s why the natural movement is so hard to contain. An annual Plant Board survey is conducted in the counties just north of the quarantine line to monitor this natural movement.
The Plant Board executes the IFA Quarantine for suppressing or slowing down the artificial movement of IFA in Arkansas. Movement of regulated articles such as nursery stock, grass and sod are monitored by inspections, treatment certificates and compliance agreements. This effort is coordinated with USDA-APHIS,PPQ and surrounding quarantined states.
An Imported Fire Ant Advisory Board was formed to coordinate the education and research effort spearheaded by Cooperative Extension and U of A Monticello. This committee endorses the recommendation to get more information to the general public. Bringing information reflecting the latest from research will certainly help with the battle against imported fire ants.