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Several New Infestations of Little Fire Ants Under Treatment on Oahu, Maui and Kauai

Courtesy of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture

Multi-agency efforts continue in the eradication of little fire ants (LFA) as several new infestations have been detected on Oahu, Maui and Kauai. There are currently seven sites being treated on Oahu, two on Maui and one on Kauai for infestation of LFA. October is Stop the Ant Month which reminds residents to be aware and check for LFA in their homes and yards.

On Oahu, neighborhoods in Kaneohe, Ahuimanu, Lanikai, Kualoa, Makiki Heights, Pauoa, and Laie are currently being treated. Areas in Wailuku and Waihee on Maui and Kilauea on Kauai are also being treated for infestations. (See attached for details in each area).

“The increasing number of LFA detections in previously uninfested areas should be cause for concern for everyone,” said Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “It is imperative that residents check their properties periodically to prevent the spread of infestations in their neighborhoods.”

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA), Hawaii Ant Lab (HAL) and partner agencies, including the Hawaii Invasive Species Council, the Invasive Species Committees on Oahu, Kauai, and Maui County and the Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species (CGAPS) have been asking residents on Oahu, Kauai and Maui County to survey their properties for LFA by using a little peanut butter on a chopstick and leaving them in several areas for about one hour. Any ants collected should be put in a sealable plastic bag, placed in the freezer for at least 24 hours and dropped off or mailed to any HDOA office. An informational flyer may be downloaded at: http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/pi/files/2014/05/LFASurvey.pdf

In addition, the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) has produced a three-minute video, “How to Test for LFA,” which shows the step-by-step procedure for testing for LFA. The video is available at: https://vimeo.com/97558997

LFA was first detected in the state on Hawaii Island in 1999. However, by time it was found, the ants were widely disbursed on the island and no treatment protocol existed for eradication. The HAL was then established to research best method of eradication and control of LFA. The treatment plans developed by HAL and HDOA entomologists have been very successful in eradicating new infestations. The protocol uses several types of pesticides and bait formulas applied on a six-week interval for a total of eight treatments.

Originally from South America, LFA is considered among the world’s worst invasive species. LFA are tiny ants, measuring 1/16th inch long, and pale orange in color. LFA move slowly, unlike the tropical fire ant, which is established in Hawaii, can move quickly, and is much larger with a larger head in proportion to its body. LFA can produce painful stings and large red welts and may cause blindness in pets. They can build up very large colonies on the ground, in trees and other vegetation, and inside buildings and homes and completely overrun a property.

Suspected invasive species should be reported to the state’s toll-free PEST HOTLINE –
643-PEST (7378).

For more information on LFA in Hawaii, go to the HAL website at: http://www.littlefireants.com/

For more information on Stop the Ant campaign, go to: http://stoptheant.org/

Current Areas Under Treatment for LFA on Maui

Wailuku, Maui

  • Reported April 3, 2019 – Resident submitted ant samples to HDOA
  • Treatment zone 2.0 acres, residential area, 18 properties involved
  • Treatment began April 30, 2019
  • Participating partners: HDOA, Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC)

Waihee, Maui

  • Reported September 10, 2019 – Landscaper submitted ant sample to MISC
  • Treatment zone approximately 5 acres, 3 properties involved
  • Treatment will begin when surveys are complete
  • Participating partners: HDOA, MISC

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