News Release
California Department of Food and Agriculture
Media Contact:
Steve Lyle, Office of Public Affairs, (916) 654-0462,
Release #01-083
Discovery on southeast edge of State Fairgrounds property

SACRAMENTO-An infestation of Red Imported Fire Ants has been discovered at Cal Expo, along the southeastern edge of the California State Fairgrounds property in Sacramento.
A sharp-eyed visitor from Texas reported suspicious-looking ants while staying at Cal Expo’s RV park, a 10-acre parcel isolated from the main property. A pest control specialist was called in and submitted a specimen to CDFA’s Plant Pest Laboratory, where it was confirmed to be a Red Imported Fire Ant. A subsequent search of the area found twelve different mounds. Biologists are trying to confirm a suspicion that the ants were brought in by another visitor to the RV park, possibly from out of state.
Red Imported Fire Ants are native to South America and have thoroughly infested the southern United States. They were first discovered in California in 1998, infesting a number of counties in Southern California and several in Northern California. They are notorious for their viciousness, swarming out of their mounds when disturbed and furiously biting and stinging their victims. In rare cases, the attacks can be fatal.
CDFA has an extensive program aimed at controlling the ants’ spread and potentially eradicating them. A major component of the program is public outreach urging people to identify and report fire ants without disturbing their mound.
“This find is a perfect example of the value of public outreach”, said CDFA Secretary William (Bill) J. Lyons, Jr. “I want to thank the man from Texas who reported the ants, and I commend the pest control operator that made sure employees received appropriate training. Our job would be enormously difficult without the public’s help”.
CDFA and the Sacramento County Agriculture Commissioner’s office are now surveying the area around Cal Expo’s RV park to determine the extent of the infestation. Treatment of the mounds is scheduled to begin today.
There are no nurseries in the immediate vicinity, so a quarantine is not anticipated at this time.
Red Imported Fire Ants live underground and can be distinguished by their mounds, which are piles of fine soil with small holes that can grow to more than 18 inches across. They gravitate to anyplace they can find moisture and are also attracted to electrical boxes, sprinkler systems and swimming pool pumps.
Anyone who thinks they’ve discovered Red Imported Fire Ants is urged to call 1-888-4FIREANT. CDFA will dispatch an expert to check it out free of charge.
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California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Public Affairs
1220 N St., Ste. 214, Sacramento, CA 95814