Fire Ants Confirmed in Maui Hotel – How to Test for Little Fire Ants

A small infestation of the invasive little fire ant (LFA) was confirmed in late May and has been undergoing treatment at a hotel in Wailea, Maui. The Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC) detected the infestation, which was confirmed by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA).

Little Fire Ant – Queen and worker ant

Little Fire Ant – Queen and worker ant

Upon confirmation of LFA, crews from MISC, the Hawaii Ant Lab (HAL) and HDOA immediately conducted a concentrated survey and determined that the infestation covered an area of about 400 square feet. The area was immediately treated with the pesticide, Siesta®, and the hotel will do follow-up treatments every six weeks under the direction of the HAL. MISC and the Oahu Invasive Species Committee (OISC) are continuing to survey areas for LFA.

“The area of infestation was caught early and crews are extremely confident that it can be eradicated,” said Scott Enright, chairperson for the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “We cannot express enough how important it is to find any infestation before it becomes widely established.”

To aid in the effort, the Department of Land and Natural (DLNR) Resources has produced a three-minute video, “How to Test for LFA,” which shows the step-by-step procedure for testing for LFA.

How to test for Little Fire Ant from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

“LFA is a serious threat to plants, people, and property across Hawaii,” said William Aila, Jr., chairperson of the Board of Land and Natural Resources. “This tiny ant can inflict painful stings to children, pets and adults, but fortunately, testing for its presence is easily done. The state has a well-established system in place for people to submit their surveys for further testing to determine whether LFA has spread to a particular property or plant material.”

The video was produced by DLNR in cooperation with HDOA and other agencies that are jointly addressing the LFA issue. It features invasive species biologist Domingo Cravalho, Jr. of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, one of the participating agencies. The video is also available on HDOA and DLNR websites, Facebook and YouTube pages.

LFA has been found on Hawaii Island since 1999. In late December 2013, LFA was detected on hapuu logs (Hawaiian fern) at retail stores on Maui and Oahu. Since its detection, Oahu and Maui nurseries have been surveyed. Five Oahu nurseries, three of which were in Waimanalo, were found to have small infestations of LFA, which were treated and are clear of the ants.

In late May, crews began treating a 6-acre area in Waimanalo, which included a 3.5- acre infestation area and buffer zone. Follow-up treatments are continuing.

Originally from South America, LFA is considered among the world’s worst invasive species.

LFA are tiny ants, measuring 1/16th inch long, are pale orange in color and move slowly. LFA move slowly, unlike the Tropical Fire Ant, which is established in Hawaii, which move quickly, and are 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 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 updated information on LFA in Hawaii, go to the HDOA website at: http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/pi/main/lfainfo/

Subsidy Program to Combat Coffee Berry Borer Signed Into Law

Coffee growers to receive direct financial assistance to control infestation

House Bill 1514, a measure introduced by Representative Nicole Lowen (District 6-Kailua Kona, Holualoa) to combat the devastating effects of the coffee berry borer (CBB) infestation, was signed into law today by Governor Neil Abercrombie.

The law creates a five-year subsidy program under the Department of Agriculture (DOA) to grant subsidies for coffee farmers to assist in offsetting the costs of combating the coffee berry borer beetle. The law also includes $500,000 in funding for the program.

Coffee Berry Borer (Hypothenemus hampei)

Coffee Berry Borer (Hypothenemus hampei)

“Subsidy programs like this have helped in other coffee-growing regions to provide an incentive for farmers to adopt best practices, and I’m hopeful that it will do the same in Kona.  Direct assistance from the State is critical for our coffee farmers, and this bill accomplishes that,” said Rep. Lowen.

Under the program, a single coffee farmer may receive reimbursement for the expense of the organic fungus used to control the pest of up to $600 per year per acre of land in coffee production, but not more than $9,000 per year. The legislation will go into effect on July 1, 2014.

In recent years the coffee berry borer beetle has become a major threat to Hawaii’s coffee industry, which is responsible for $30 million in revenue annually.  Past efforts by Representative Lowen have provided additional funds of $800,000 funds to help mitigate and study the infestation. This program will further help protect and maintain Hawaii’s coffee industry.

23rd Annual Rubber Duckie Event at Kings’ Shops

Celebrate the Fourth of July at Kings’ Shops. There will be plenty of fun for the entire family at this year’s Rubber Duckie Event at Kings’ Shops.

Rubber Duck Race 2The fun starts at 11 a.m. With a spectacular lineup of entertainment emceed by KAPA Radio Celebrity, “Jaz” Yglesias aka “Bolohead.” The race starts at 3 p.m. and will be called by Jaz and Comedic Magician, The Great Barusky.

The Schedule of Entertainment:

  • 11:00 a.m. Kahikina’s Nahenahe `Ohana – Aunty Irma with adult students perform Hawaiian classics on `ukulele.
  • 12:00 p.m. Kris Fuchigami – Local boy and accomplished ukulele artist from Hilo
  • 1:15 p.m. Merriman’s Mediterranean Café Watermelon Eating Contest
  • 2:00 p.m. Laulima – Local trio with a casual flare for the oldies but goodies to the sweet melodies of Hawaiian favorites and contemporary songs
  • 3:00 p.m. The Great Rubber Duckie Race
  • 3:30 p.m. Dam STR8 – Father & Son duo with famed drummer Ronnie Atwater performing musical styles from contemporary Hawaiian to pop, classic rock and originals. Smooth harmonies as well as smoking guitars.
  • 5:00 p.m. Duck Waddling and Duck Calling Contests
  • 5:30 p.m. Awards Ceremony

In addition to the thrilling activities, food and game booths, there will be plenty of in-store promotions as well as gifts with purchase.   Between June 29th and July 6th receive two HawaiianMiles for every dollar spent in Kings’ Shops. On the fourth of July, spend $100 and receive a $10 Kings’ Shops gift certificate while supplies last. Be sure to visit the new and sensational stores; Rip Curl, Sasha Hawaii and Tori Richard. It is all happening at Kings’ Shops this Fourth of July.

Operating Hours at Big Island HI5 Redemption Sites to Change

Effective July 1, 2014, the hours of operation at all ten (10) HI-5 Certified Redemption Centers at Hawai‘i County recycling and transfer stations will change.

Please see the new schedule of days and hours below:Transfer DaysAll sites will remain open from 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM. For the convenience of the public, all sites will remain open during this time, and will not close for lunch.

Due to site preparations for transition for a new contract to operate the redemption centers, all ten (10) County HI-5 Certified Redemption centers will be closed for two (2) days on Monday, June 30, 2014 and Tuesday, July 1, 2014.  Additionally, all ten (10) County HI-5 Certified Redemption Centers will be closed Friday, July 4, 2014 in observance of the holiday.

The Department of Environmental Management thanks the public for your cooperation and understanding as we work with our contractors to make the HI-5 program as convenient as possible.

For more information or copies of the new schedule, please visit www.hawaiizerowaste.org or contact Chris Thayer at cthayer@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Big Island Police Searching for Man and Woman Wanted in Theft Case

Hawaiʻi Island police are requesting the public’s help in identifying a man and a woman wanted for questioning in a theft that occurred on May 6 in Hilo.

Have you seen this couple?

Have you seen this couple?

Police ask anyone with information about the persons in the surveillance image to call Officer Jacob Obermiller at 961-2213 or the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.