Plant Industries

Serving the citizens of Arkansas and the agricultural and business communities by providing information and unbiased enforcement of laws and regulations set by the Arkansas State Plant Board

Imported Fire Ant Program

Imported Fire Ants - Solenopsis invicta are a South American invasive insect that have been present in the United States for around 100 years.  The ants build large mounds and are highly aggressive if disturbed.  They also can inflict a painful sting that is followed by intense itching.  People who are allergic to bees, wasps, and hornets can also be allergic to fire ant stings and have severe reactions to their venom.  The ants can also replace native ants and alter the ecology in which they have invaded.

Since their introduction to our country they have spread naturally, but most spread is through accidental or negligent  human assistance.  They can infest nursery stock, grass sod, baled hay and straw, soil, and used equipment.  The United States Department of Agriculture and states in which fire ants are present maintain quarantines to prevent fire ants from moving into areas that do not yet have them.  These regulated articles can still be moved from a quarantined area into an area without a fire ant infestation if those articles are treated or managed in such a way to prevent their presence.  Businesses that regularly transport regulated articles from a quarantine zone to a non-quarantine zone can set up a compliance agreement in order to facilitate this movement without also transporting fire ants.  These agreements are set up between the business, USDA, and the Arkansas Department of Agriculture.  The agreements stipulate treatments or handling methods required.  A company under a compliance agreement is issued a unique shield-shaped stamp that is placed on the invoice or shipping container.  This way a buyer outside of the quarantine can know that no fire ants are present in a shipment.

We currently have around 100 compliance agreements for fire ants.  Most are nurseries and turfgrass farms, with several hay/straw producers and a few machinery users.

Nurseries and landscapers need to be conscious of these regulations so that they do not transport or receive fire ants through nursery stock and grass sod.  Consumers also need to know where the quarantine is so that they do not inadvertently transport fire ants into areas that do not have them.

Imported Fire Ant