Movement controls imposed for Whirinaki Red Imported Fire Ant response

23 June 2006

Biosecurity New Zealand has today (June 23) implemented a two kilometre movement control zone around a site where a Red Imported Fire Ant (RIFA) nest was found at Whirinaki, north of Napier.

The nest was treated on 9 June. RIFA Response Manager Sonya Bissmire said the movement controls were essentially a "time-out" to minimise the possibility of human-assisted spread over winter when the ants would be less active and difficult to detect.

"We've done a lot of surveillance already, concentrating on high risk sites. The problem is these ants are most active in warm sunny conditions and we simply cannot cover the area in the detail we need to during winter. We haven't found any ants other than those in the original nest, but until we prove otherwise, we have to operate on the assumption there could be more and prevent them from spreading."

"The ants will not be very active over winter. The major risk is human-assisted spread, as they are well-known 'hitch-hikers' on risk items. We've tried to make the controls as non-restrictive as possible, but we do need people to do their bit. There will of course be people who don't live in the area, but who work in it or holiday in it, and they also need to be aware of these requirements.

The movement controls are centred on a two kilometre area around the Pan Pac site on State Highway 2. It places restrictions on moving risk items beyond a single property within the zone and/or outside the zone without prior approval. Risk goods include Red Imported Fire Ants, soil, gravel, hay and silage, plants, plant material and garden waste, including compost, and goods other than roadworthy vehicles that have been outside and in contact with soil for more than 24 hours. Also included are firewood, bark, wood chips and other wood products, as are used electrical goods, other than small portable appliances. The notice does not restrict the collection of rubbish by the municipal authority, which is covered by special arrangements.

The movement control zone would be well advertised, and information distributed to all residents in the area, Ms Bissmire said. Information is also on the Biosecurity New Zealand website, People wanting approval to move goods should call 0800 80 99 66.

RIFA is a well-known pest that impacts native flora and fauna, agriculture, horticulture and human health. It can swarm and sting repeatedly if nests are disturbed. The stings are uncomfortable, but not dangerous to most people, though as with any sting, there is also a chance of allergic reaction or secondary infection. Anyone believing they had been stung and who was concerned should seek medical advice, Ms Bissmire said.

 An information evening will be held on Tuesday 27 June, at the King George Hall, Bayview, from 7.30pm.

 Media contact: Phil Barclay, Senior Communications Adviser, Biosecurity New Zealand, 029 894 0432.

 To report a suspected exotic pest or disease, call the Emergency Hotline on 0800 80 99 66.



Last Updated: 23 September 2010

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