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A Message from USDA to Ant Keepers

Posted by April Dawson, Communications Specialist, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA in Animals
Oct 25, 2023
Ants drinking water

Ant keepers enjoy a fun and educational hobby, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) also has an interest in it. You might wonder what ant keeping has to do with American agriculture and natural resources. Some invertebrates that people—including ant keepers—import into the U.S. or move between states could threaten our crops, forests, and community landscapes if they escape. USDA can help you import and move them safely.

USDA regulates the importation and interstate movement of all ant species because certain species can be serious plant pests. If certain non-native ant species become established in new areas, they could outcompete native ants, harm native plants, reduce biodiversity, damage crops, and cost millions of dollars to citizens, government, and industry to eradicate or control.

Responsible ant keepers, importers, and sellers must prevent the introduction and potential release of any prohibited species. To move ants between States, import them, or sell them interstate, requires a valid PPQ 526 permit for the specific ant species and the State you are moving them to. Learn how to apply for a PPQ 526 permit on our eFile web page. Select “PPQ-526” from the dropdown and click “Get Started.”

Don’t take chances. Email USDA Senior Entomologist Carlos Blanco first to ensure you’re not doing anything illegal.

Remember, although ant keeping is an exciting hobby, ant keepers must understand the risks. Let’s continue to protect American agriculture and natural resources together! Visit USDA’s Invertebrate Pets page to learn more.

Category/Topic: Animals