Lincoln County and parts of Catawba County will soon be under state quarantine rules for the imported fire ant as part of a continuing effort to monitor the spread of the insect and address control measures. According to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the quarantine now includes 71 counties.
Starting Jan. 1, the revised quarantine includes all of Lincoln County and the area south of Interstate 40 from the Iredell County line to the Burke County line with Catawba County. Under the new rules, residents and business owners in the affected areas must obtain a permit before moving plants, sod and related equipment into or through non-infested areas. Items requiring a permit include sod, soil, hay and straw, nursery plant material, logs or pulpwood with soil and soil-moving equipment.
The imported fire ant first entered the United States through Alabama in 1918, and was first identified in Brunswick County in 1957. The pest is considered to be a health concern to humans, livestock and wildlife due to its painful sting.