Hawai‘i County Awarded $375,000 to Control Little Fire Ants

The Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation has partnered with County Councilman Dennis “Fresh” Onishi to obtain $375,000 to control little fire ant infestations island-wide.

Little Fire Ant – Queen and worker ant

Little Fire Ant – Queen and worker ant

The State Department of Agriculture is providing $200,000, and the Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council has awarded a grant of $175,000 that will allow the Department of Parks and Recreation to establish a little fire ant (LFA) control program at County parks and facilities.

Funding will be used to hire up to three full-time employees who will work exclusively fighting LFA infestations island-wide, purchase bait and equipment, and finance transportation needs.

Once an infested park or facility has been identified, the LFA team will apply bait on a six-week cycle, rotate the bait type based on recommendations from the Hawai‘i Ant Lab, and then continually monitor the treated area to ensure a reduction in ant infestations.

Similar treatments conducted at Richardson Ocean Park in Hilo have reduced LFA populations in the affected areas by up to 40 percent, according to data collected during a recently completed pilot project involving the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Hawai‘i Ant Lab.

Ranked among the world’s worst invasive species due to the environmental harm they cause and ability to inflict painful stings that can blind animals, LFAs have established colonies in numerous areas following their discovery on Hawai‘i Island in 1999.

The Department of Parks and Recreation wishes to thank Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawai‘i Board of Agriculture, and Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council members for providing the funding needed to establish the LFA control program.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 961-8311 or jarmstrong@co.hawaii.hi.us.

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