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April 24, 2007

eXtension launches imported fire ants Web site

Fire ants

One of America’s most important exotic insect pests has a new enemy — an online resource dedicated to providing information on the control and eradication of the imported fire ant.

eXtension’s Imported Fire Ants Web site puts a wealth of research-based information directly on consumers’ computer screens. It’s an excellent resource for anyone needing information about imported fire ants and how to control them. To take full advantage of the site, register at www.extension.org and choose Imported Fire Ants.

This new tool is being launched April 24-26 at the Annual Imported Fire Ant Conference in Gainesville, Fla. Entomologists from throughout the world will gather to discuss the latest research and management advances to help combat this pest ant.

Two species of imported fire ants, the red imported fire ant and the black imported fire ant, and their sexually reproductive hybrids infest southern states from Florida to California.

"Fire ants arrived in Mobile, Ala., between 1910 and 1940, and have since spread over 320 million acres in 14 states and territories. They cause an estimated $6 billion in annual losses," said Kathy Flanders, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System entomologist and associate professor of entomology and plant pathology at Auburn University.

People and animals are also susceptible to fire ant bites and stings. Those who are sensitive to their venom may have severe medical problems or may even die. Healthy individuals can be seriously affected because the ants can sting many times when defending their colonies.

The eXtension Imported Fire Ants Web site features the following:

· Frequently Asked Questions allows users to submit queries about imported fire ants. If an answer is not already available in the FAQ section, the question is directed to Ask the Expert where local contacts provide requested information.
· Learning Sessions titled "Managing Imported Fire Ants in Urban Areas" and "Managing Imported Fire Ants in Cattle Production Systems" target unique situations facing homeowners and livestock producers.
· News & Upcoming Events keeps the news and calendar of events current at the local, state and national levels.
· Imported Fire Ant Management Decision Module, to be added soon, asks users a series of questions and then offers suggestions to help them decide what to do about fire ants in their urban landscapes or cattle operations.

The eXtension Imported Fire Ants Web site has been developed through the collaboration of experts in entomology and pest management at land grant universities, federal, state, county, and municipal employees, and communications and information technology specialists, who formed a Community of Practice to develop a nationwide, Web-based site on imported fire ant management.

"This site will be regularly maintained and kept current with new features and dates of events. For homeowners and producers needing fire ant information, this site will be a valuable resource," said Bart Drees, Extension entomologist and professor with Texas Cooperative Extension.

eXtension is an educational partnership of more than 70 land-grant universities helping Americans improve their lives with access to timely, objective, research-based information and educational opportunities. eXtension's interactive Web site, at www.extension.org is customized with links to local Cooperative Extension Web sites. Land-grant universities were founded on the ideals that higher education should be accessible to all, that the university should teach liberal and practical subjects and share the university's knowledge with people throughout their states.

Posted by Natalie at April 24, 2007 11:07 AM