Make sure your nursery shipments are quarantine compliant for fire ants

June 01, 2017

A species native to South America, the red imported fire ant (RIFA) is now in 14 states, primarily in the Southeast. Small but aggressive, RIFA — Solenopsis Invicta Buren — is a venomous pest whose burning sting can be dangerous to people, pets and livestock. More than $250 million has been spent in the United States to control or eliminate this major agricultural and urban pest.

For growers, the additional challenge is that RIFA can spread when moved with nursery stock and in soil. To slow or prevent their spread, federal quarantines are currently in place for imported fire ants (red, black and hybrid varieties of IFA) in affected states. The following items cannot be moved from quarantined areas without special authorization.

Regulated articles

  • Imported fire ant queens and reproducing colonies of imported fire ants
  • Soil, with the exception of soil samples shipped to approved laboratories or potting soil if commercially prepared and shipped in original container
  • Plants with roots and soil attached with the exception of indoor house plants not for sale
  • Grass sod
  • Baled hay and straw that has been stored in contact with soil
  • Used soil-moving equipment
  • Any other products or articles that a USDA inspector determines may contribute to the spread of IFA

Required paperwork to move regulated articles

Growers can operate under a compliance agreement regarding specific provisions of the Federal IFA Quarantine. If you are not under a compliance agreement, you may be issued a certificate that authorizes the movement of regulated articles once certain procedures have been utilized. Contact your state regulatory official for more information.

To learn about approved treatments, certification and the IFA-Free Nursery Program for plants in containers, visit:

For certification of nursery stock, the following BASF products are approved by USDA-APHIS for quarantine treatments:

Last Update Jun 27, 2018