Ant Control - Fire ants on the march

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Ant Control - Fire ants on the march

 

Quarantine covers county

BY VIRGINIA BRIDGES, Correspondent

fire ants

Expanded restrictions in Durham County are intended to slow the spread of an aggressive army of ants that latch onto skin with their jaws and inject multiple fiery stings that promise to itch for days.

"I tell you if you ever get into them you will never forget it," said George Davis, owner of retail lawn and garden center Stone Brothers & Byrd. "They can hurt. You can get several hundred on you, which can happen in a blink of an eye."

In February, the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services expanded the quarantine area for the imported fire ant. The quarantine, which previously included the lower half of the county, now encompasses all of Durham.

Fire ants spread naturally every year via winged females. If the female survives the various elements, she eventually sheds her wings and starts reproducing a colony.

The quarantine is meant to slow the much faster artificial movement of ants through plants, trees and equipment brought in from infected areas, said Lane Kreitlow, a state entomologist.

The quarantine requires all residents and business owners to obtain a permit before moving items such as plants, hay, logs and soil-moving equipment into or through non-infested areas. Regulated articles will have to be treated before traveling to fire ant-free areas. Failure to obtain a permit could result in a stop sale notice, rejection or destruction of the item, according to the state.

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