Technique guards against pest in beehive shipments and prevents delays
SACRAMENTO-A new pest exclusion technique to protect against the Red Imported Fire Ant is in practice at the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s border station at Needles. A limited number of out-of-state beehive haulers with ants on board are now permitted to exterminate them with a water-intensive high-pressure cleaning device. Previously, all shipments found to be carrying ants were ordered back to their state of origin.
The time saving option will be allowed on a case-by-case basis for haulers who appear to have just a few Red Imported Fire Ants along with their bee colonies. The ants are commonly found to be hitchhiking amidst mud and debris caked on pallets carrying the colonies.
CDFA reminds producers and shippers that all honeybee shipments must be free of dirt and debris and checked for Red Imported Fire Ant contamination before leaving the state of origin. The shipments are then inspected at both the Arizona and California borders.
“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. ”It is very important that our growers keep a watchful eye on out-of-state beehives that can carry this dangerous pest.”
All recent fire ant infestations on California agricultural lands have been traced to out-of-state beehives. Growers who receive the shipments are urged to look closely for packed dirt on pallets and for colonies that appear weak or dead.
Red Imported Fire Ants are common in 12 southeastern U.S. states and were first identified in California in 1998. The pests expand their colonies by feeding on crops and can disrupt growers’ integrated pest management programs by eliminating beneficial insects. The ants also pose a threat to livestock and people through their propensity to swarm and attack.
California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Public Affairs
1220 N St., Ste. 214, Sacramento, CA 95814