The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is expanding a state quarantine for the imported fire ant in a continuing effort to monitor and address this pest.

With the expansion, the quarantine now includes portions or entire areas of 63 counties.

The quarantine expansion means residents and business owners in all of Bertie and Martin counties, and portions of Davidson and Franklin counties, will now need to obtain a permit before moving plants, sod and related equipment into or through non-infested areas.

Effective immediately, the imported fire ant quarantine is revised to include:

  • Bertie County: The entire county.

  • Martin County: The entire county.

  • Davidson County: That portion of the county south of Interstate 85.

  • Franklin County: That portion of the county south of N.C. 56 from the Granville County line to the Nash County line.

Items requiring a permit include sod, soil, hay and straw, nursery plant material, logs or pulpwood with soil, and soil-moving equipment. Movement of infested materials could result in the establishment and secondary spread of the pest to non-infested areas.

Businesses and individuals within the quarantined areas will need to obtain a permit to move these materials through or to non-quarantined areas. Certificates can be obtained from a local plant protection specialist or by contacting the Plant Protection Section at (800) 206-9333 or (919) 733-6932.

“Failure to obtain the needed inspections and certifications may result in the issuance of a stop-sale notice and rejection or destruction of the regulated article,” said Gene Cross, director of the NCDA&CS Plant Industry Division. “It is critical we continue proactive efforts to keep the fire ant from moving into non-regulated areas of the state.”

The imported fire ant quarantine is part of the NCDA&CS' ongoing effort to monitor and address the threat posed by this pest. The imported fire ant entered the United States through Alabama in 1918, and was first identified in North Carolina in Brunswick County in 1957. For a map of the quarantine area, go to www.ncagr.com/plantindustry/plant/entomology/IFAmap.htm.