Africanized Honey Bees and Red Imported Fire Ants FAQs
Updated December 23, 2009
Q. Are there "killer bees" in Cerritos?
A. Africanized Honey Bees, or "killer bees," have been spotted in Los Angeles County, although their "killer" reputation has been exaggerated. The bees arrived in Texas in 1990 and have since migrated to California. They are very similar to normal honey bees, but they are much less predictable and more defensive of their nests. When provoked, Africanized Honey Bees respond quickly in swarms and will pursue their victims for a quarter of a mile or more.
Q. I heard that Red Imported Fire Ants were found in Cerritos. Is that true?
A. Yes, in fact a portion of Cerritos has been quarantined by the California Department of Food and Agriculture because Red Imported Fire Ants were found in the area. Worker ants were found in a street median and a mound was discovered in a shopping center parking lot. The 4.5-square-mile quarantine area is bounded by Artesia Boulevard on the north, Marquardt Avenue on the east, the Los Angeles/Orange County line on the south, and Pioneer Boulevard on the west. All of Orange County and portions of Riverside County are also under quarantine.
Red Imported Fire Ants are aggressive and can inflict painful stings that can cause serious allergic reactions in some people. Their mounds can be up to three feet across and 18 inches high, and can house up to 250,000 ants.
Q. What is the City doing to control the pests?
A. The City's Public Works Department is inspecting all parks and City facilities to flag or eradicate any bee nests or ant colonies. To report a problem on public property, call Public Works at (562) 916-1220.
In addition, residents and business owners in the Red Imported Fire Ant quarantine areas should not move from their property any plants, soil or bales of hay or straw that have been stored on the ground. If you must move these materials, or if you find an ant mound on your property, please call the California Department of Food and Agriculture at (888) 434-7326.
Q. How can I protect my family?
A. To protect yourself from the pests at home:
- Listen for buzzing indicating a nest or swarm of bees.
- Examine your yard for bee nests or red ant colonies before doing any yard work or allowing children to play outside. Also be aware when in school fields, parks and other open areas.
- Never disturb a bee nest or swarm, or approach a red ant colony. Also, teach your children to avoid these dangers.
- Report any suspected Red Imported Fire Ant mounds on private property to the Los Angeles County Agricultural Commission at (626) 575-4251.
- Check with a doctor about bee sting kits and precautions to take if you're sensitive to stings.
- If you encounter a swarm of bees, protect your face and eyes, run away and take shelter in a car or building.
- If you are stung by a bee or ant, scrape out any stingers, avoid squeezing the wound, wash the area with soap and water and apply an ice pack to reduce swelling and pain.
- Seek medical attention if you've been stung several times, if you have trouble breathing or if you are allergic to stings. Call 911 in an emergency.
For more information on Africanized Honey Bees, visit the United States Department of Agriculture website. For more information on Red Imported Fire Ants, visit the California Department of Food and Agriculture website.