Red imported fire ants discovered in Sacramento
An infestation of red imported fire ants was discovered at the California State Fairgrounds in Sacramento, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) announced in late October. A visitor from Texas reported suspicious-looking ants while staying at Cal Expo's RV park, leading officials to believe that they were brought in on a vehicle or plants.
CDFA spokesman Steve Lyle said that the 20 mounds found at Cal Expo have been treated and officials are hopeful that the ants will not survive the winter. “We believe this is an isolated incident, and not indicative of the ants' spread to Northern California,” Lyle said.
Red imported fire ants are an exotic pest first discovered in California in 1997. Native to South America, they have thoroughly infested the southern United States. Extremely difficult to eradicate, they are notorious for their viciousness, swarming out of mounds when disturbed and furiously biting and stinging victims.
The ants pose a danger to homes and residents, agriculture and wildlife habitat; UC scientists estimate that if they became established in California costs could run between $387 million and $989 million per year (see p. 26 ).
Suspected red imported fire ant mounds should be reported to 1-888-4FIREANT. For more information go to: www.cdfa.ca.gov/phpps/pdep/rifa/