NORFOLK, Va., June 24 (UPI) -- A Virginia agriculture official says a temporary quarantine has been placed on a portion of the state because of a burgeoning fire ant threat.
Elaine Lidholm, spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said Wednesday the quarantine is focused on shipments of plant and wood materials, along with certain farming-related equipment, The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot said.
The quarantine covers James City and York counties as well as the communities of Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg and Poquoson.
The targeted shipments can be successfully moved out of the quarantine area if they are deemed free of fire ants.
Lidholm said the precautionary measure comes after the state treated 642 fire ant colonies during the first six months of 2008. Prior to those treatments, the annual average for the state was nearly 30 treatments.
"What that says to us is these populations are now established in the area and we simply can't try to go out and eradicate every site," Lidholm said.