News Release
California Department of Food and Agriculture
Media Contact:
Steve Lyle, Office of Public Affairs, (916) 654-0462,
Release #01-011
Sacramento, CA - For California agriculture, spring heralds the beginning of a new crop year. And for some growers, nothing symbolizes the milestone more than a flatbed truck loaded with beehives. Because many bee colonies come from out-of-state beekeepers, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) warns growers to be on the lookout for an unwanted hitchhiker- the Red Imported Fire Ant.

"Honey bees are vital to California agriculture and out-of-state beekeepers play a significant role in keeping our agricultural engine running," said CDFA Secretary William (Bill) J. Lyons, Jr. "And although none knowingly transport Red Imported Fire Ants to our state, it is important that growers keep a watchful eye on out-of-state beehives as they may potentially carry this dangerous pest." The Red Imported Fire Ant expands its colony by feeding on crops and will disrupt growers' integrated pest management programs by eliminating beneficial insects.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture asks growers to consider the following questions in order to keep their property free from Red Imported Fire Ants

* Have you, or your neighbor, ever used bee colonies that originated from Texas, Louisiana or any other state infested with Red Imported Fire Ants

* Do the beehives or their pallets show evidence of packed dirt

* Are there any clumps of packed dirt in the bed of the beekeeperˇ¦s delivery truck?

* Does the bee colony appear weak or dead?

* Have you or your workers encountered unusually aggressive ants?

If growers answer yes to any of these questions, they should contact their county agricultural commissioner's office for an inspection of their property.

Red Imported Fire Ants are common in 12 southeastern U.S. states and were first identified in Southern California in 1998. Since then, the insects have been reported in eight California counties: Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, San Diego, and in the agricultural areas of Fresno, Madera, and Stanislaus. All infestations on California agricultural lands have been traced back to out-of-state beehives

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California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Public Affairs
1220 N St., Ste. 214, Sacramento, CA 95814