Virginia officials say an imported fire ant quarantine has been expanded to include a total of seven counties and 11 cities.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced Thursday that the area of quarantine was expanded after survey data showed that imported fire ant populations were widespread in additional localities.
The imported fire ant is known for its aggressive behavior and ferocious sting. Once established, it has the potential to spread to uninfested areas through natural means or through the movement of infested articles.
The quarantine now includes the counties of Brunswick, Greensville, Isle of Wight, James City, Mecklenburg, Southampton and York. It also includes the cities of Chesapeake, Emporia, Franklin, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach and Williamsburg.
Under the terms of the quarantine, articles that are capable of transporting the imported fire ant are prohibited from moving out of the quarantined area unless certified as free of the ants. These regulated articles include soil, plants with roots with soil attached, grass sod and used soil-moving or farm equipment unless free of non-compacted soil.
People who plan to move regulated articles out of the quarantined areas should contact VDACS' Office of Plant Industry Services.