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Symposium on Red Imported Fire Ant For Pest Control Professionals Set for Aug. 27

Symposium on Red Imported Fire Ant For Pest Control Professionals Set for Aug. 27

(August 16, 1999)

The red imported fire ant - the latest in a line of "exotic" insect pests to establish a toehold in California - will be the subject of a symposium for pest control professionals scheduled for 8 a.m. to noon Friday, Aug. 27, at The Beckman Center at UC Ir vine.

Presented by the University of California Center for Exotic Pest Research, headquartered at the University of California, Riverside, and the UCR Department of Entomology, the symposium is intended to share the latest information on the red imported fire ant that has recently infested areas in several Southern California counties. UCR entomologists, as well as scientists from universities in Florida and Tennessee will discuss the Southern California infestation, the history and impact of the red imported fire ant in the United States and the latest research aimed at controlling the pest. (A tentative program is attached.)

Last October, red imported fire ants were discovered in large numbers in Orange County. Since that discovery, more than two dozen other infestations have been identified in that county, which is now under quarantine by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, restricting the movement of nursery stock until treated and certified free of fire ants [Mike-is the quarantine still in effect?]. Ants have also been found in Riverside, Los Angeles, San Diego, Kern, Fresno and Stanislaus counties.

The red imported fire ant can infest lawns, school playgrounds, parks, agricultural fields and wild land areas. They are often detected by their dome-shaped mounds up to 18 inches tall, each of which can contain up to a half million ants. They aggressivel y protect their colonies; in fact, they swarm very rapidly out of their mounds if disturbed. Each ant can sting repeatedly, with the venom causing a painful burning and itching sensation followed by a skin reaction resulting in pustules.

In agriculture, the insects can attack farm workers, clog irrigation lines, short-circuit electrical systems and damage farm equipment. They can also attack newborn calves and poultry.

Reporters are invited to attend and cover the symposium free of charge. The Beckman Center is located at 100 Academy Way on the UC Irvine campus. For more information, contact Kathy Barton at (909) 787-2495 up until Aug. 13. After Aug. 13, contact Kris Lovekin at (909) 787-5893.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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