O.C. Takes a Step in War on Fire Ants


The first step in the eradication of fire ants was unanimously approved by county supervisors Tuesday, beginning what could be a five-year battle plan, said county Agriculture Commissioner Rick LeFeuvre.

The board’s action allows the state Department of Agriculture and Food to prepare contracts with the Orange County Vector Control District, which was selected as the subcontractor, LeFeuvre said.

Part of the plan calls for spreading a slow-acting sterilization agent in infested areas and launching a public education campaign about the stinging ant, which last year established its first major West Coast colonies in Orange County and portions of Los Angeles and Riverside counties.


LeFeuvre could not say when the eradication effort would begin. Once the contracts are drawn, they must be approved by supervisors sometime in late December and early January. Then the contracts go to the vector control district for its approval, he said.

The governor has approved funding until June 2000, but LeFeuvre said he is optimistic the county can secure continuous funding for five years.

To battle the ants, state agriculture workers have opted for a birth control approach, which takes as long as six weeks to destroy a colony.