Hainan has stepped up preventive measures to guard against an invasion of red fire ants, which have been found in the southern island's neighbouring areas. Zhang Wenfeng , director of the Hainan Plant Protection and Quarantine Station, said the province was still free from red fire ants but precautions were necessary. 'Red fire ants have been found in Guangdong province, Hong Kong and Macau. We're worried about this as it's likely that the red fire ant would sneak in from these neighbouring areas,' Mr Zhang said. He added that the provincial agricultural department had enhanced inspections in high-risk areas such as golf courses since early last month. He said an emergency plan had been drafted and would be initiated if red fire ants were found. 'We'll alert the authorities and destroy the anthills if we find any,' he said. Hainan's agricultural department has also introduced quarantine checks on all plants and imported fertilisers, Xinhua reported yesterday. The red fire ant, a red-brown species from South America, first emerged on the mainland in Guangdong's Wuchuan city near Zhanjiang . Guangdong provincial quarantine authorities were put on alert about the invasion of red fire ants in November, but the infestation only came to light in January when Guangdong Governor Huang Huahua was questioned by Hong Kong representatives to the Guangdong People's Political Consultative Conference. Hong Kong authorities first spotted red fire ants in late January.