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The imported fire ant has become a major economic pest to various sectors of the Texas economy. In order to determine the economic impact of this pest on selected urban areas, an economic study was conducted in 1998-1999 in the 5 metroplexes of Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Houston to estimate the costs of controlling and managing fire ants. The main purpose of this study was to estimate the annual economic impact of the fire ant on the households, schools, cities, and golf courses for the aforementioned metroplexes. Other sectors within the urban areas are affected but this study shows the major impacted sectors that interfere with the human activities in living areas, work areas and recreational areas. Annual expenditures for the management and control of fire ants was selected as an indicator of the annual economic impact. This study found that the annual expenditure for fire ant control and management in these metroplexes amounted to over $581 million. The total annual expense by sector amounted to $526 million for households, $29 million for golf courses, $25 million for schools, and $0.6 million for cities. These annual cost figures do not include multiple family housing or costs born by electrical utility companies, communication firms and cable companies. These data are available from the Texas Tech University study conducted by E. Segarra, The annual costs of control and management of fire ants were distributed by metroplex as follows: $61 million for Austin, $121.5 million for Dallas, $74.9 million for Fort Worth, $121.9 million for Houston and $202 million for San Antonio. The costs by expenditure items were as follows: $301.5 million for fire ant control and treatment, $80.6 million for repairs, $152 million for costs of equipment replacement and $47.2 million for medical treatment. The study also revealed information about location of damaged areas, respondents' valuation of the activities curtailed by fire ants and their willingness to pay for effective fire ant management.


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