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Abstract

The red fire ant was imported into Antigua several years ago and has now become a serious pest. The ants are very aggressive and will invade houses and other structures. They sting without provocation, Multiple stings have occasionally required hospitalization. Young livestock and small pets have also been attacked. The presence of fire ants in crop fields interferes with field operations and the ants are implicated in the spread of pink and papaya mealy bugs. The Ministry of Agriculture has begun a programme to assist communities in managing the ant with a minimum of risk to human health and the environment. A survey of all parishes in Antigua has established the extent of the problem and the target areas for management programmes. Testing of control measures, including bio-agents and other organic methods has been carried out. Tests have included commercial baits and spot treatments. The results of these tests and consideration of fire ant behaviour have formed the basis for a number of integrated management recommendations, which have been communicated to the public through brochures, community meetings and the media.

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