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Research — TN Fire Ant Research & Education Team (F.A.R.E.T.)


The Tennessee Fire Ant Research and Education Team (FARET) was formed in spring of 2003 as a collaboration between the University of Tennessee Institue of Agriculture and Tennessee State University Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research. Core team members include Dr. Karen Vail, UT Extension Urban Entomologist and Professor; Dr. Pat Parkman, UTIA LYBIL Director; and Dr. Jason Oliver, TSU Research Associate Professor. Gray Haun, Administrator, Tennessee Department of Agriculture; Mark Halcomb,post-retirement appointment, UT Extension; and Beth Long, UT Extension Specialist, assist the core team.

The primary mission of FARET is to develop imported fire ant (IFA) management strategies for the state’s nursery industry and to provide educational programs for nursery producers in counties affected by IFA infestations and in areas where emerging infestations are likely. Most research activity will occur at TSU’s Otis L. Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville (Warren County) and at private nurseries.

Specific research objectives include evaluating various treatment combinations and application methods using existing IFA insecticides registered for use on woody ornamentals and in ornamental nurseries; determining the efficacy of experimental insecticidal compounds and reduced-risk biopesticides; assessing current status of biological control agents released in Tennessee; and determining the distribution of the red imported fire ant, black imported fire ant and the hybrid imported fire ant in Tennessee.

In addition to control recommendations, educational program components will include information to help distinguish IFAs from similar-looking native ants and other mound-producing ants; establishing guidelines for initiating community-wide IFA abatement programs; and maintenance and update of the UT fire ant web site. The FARET team will work with UT Extension agents from counties within the IFA quarantine area, and from areas likely to be affected by IFA, to provide an IFA educational program within their respective counties.

Please contact Karen Vail ( or Jason Oliver ( for further information.

Tennessee Research Publications

Tennessee Research Reports