West Hawaii Little Fire Ant Awareness Forum

WHAT: The Office of the Governor in West Hawai‘i presents:       

Little Fire Ant Awareness Forum

Little fire ants are one of the worst invasive species in the world and one of the most detrimental invasive species in Hawai‘i.

lfa-in-hawaiiThey threaten agriculture, native ecosystems, animals and people. This forum aims to support the community and provide residents with valuable information on how to prevent and control little fire ants.

WHO: Presentations from:

  • Hawai‘i Ant Lab
  • State of Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture
  • Big Island Invasive Species Committee
  • County of Hawai‘i – Department of Research and Development

WHEN: Thursday, October 27, 2016 – 6 to 8pm (Doors open at 5:30 pm)

WHERE:  Hawai‘i Community College-Pālamanui, 73-4225 Ane Keohokalole Highway, Room 127

Little Fire Ant Awareness Forum

The Governor’s Office in West Hawai‘i Presents:  Little Fire Ant Awareness Forum on Thursday, October 27, 2016, 6-8 p.m. Doors Open at 5:30 p.m Hawai‘i Community College, Palamanui Campus located at 73-4225 Ane Keohokalole Highway, Room 127

Little fire and and queen ant.

Little fire and and queen ant.

With presenters from: Hawai‘i Ant Lab, State of Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture, Big Island Invasive Species Committee, County of Hawai‘i  Department of Research and Development.

Little Fire Ants, one of the most detrimental invasive species in Hawai‘i, threaten agriculture, native ecosystems, animals, and people. Come learn how you can prevent and control this pest.

 

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.

Department of Agriculture Confirms Stinging Little Fire Ant Has Spread to Oahu and Maui From Hawaii Island

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) has confirmed that an invasive stinging ant called the Little Fire Ant (LFA) has spread from Hawaii Island to Oahu and Maui.  On Dec. 23, a customer at garden shop on Maui reported a suspicious ant to the Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC), which sent the specimens to HDOA entomologists who confirmed the identification of LFA.

Little Fire Ant - Worker Ant

Little Fire Ant – Worker Ant

On Dec. 26, HDOA entomologists surveyed several nurseries and stores and found LFA infestations on hapuu (Hawaiian tree fern) at several garden shops on Oahu and at another Maui store.  All infested hapuu were contained and the areas secured. On Dec. 27, HDOA staff revisited the stores and treated the areas with pesticides.  Through trace-back and trace-forward efforts, HDOA believes the infested hapuu originated on Hawaii Island and products from that nursery have been ordered for treatment prior to shipping. The last shipment was made to Oahu and Maui on Dec. 11.  Surveys and treatment will continue by HDOA and MISC staff.

Little Fire Ant – Queen and worker ant

Little Fire Ant – Queen and worker ant

HDOA is advising those who recently purchased hapuu logs or planters to contain the logs by placing them in a plastic or garbage bag and seal it securely.  They should contact their nearest HDOA office as soon as possible.  Due to the holiday, please leave a message and staff will respond as soon as they are able:

Maui – (808) 872-3848

Oahu – PEST HOTLINE – 643-PEST (7378).  This is also a toll-free number for neighbor islands.

“It is important that those who have recently purchased hapuu which may be infested with little fire ants to help contain the infestation and contact us as soon as possible,” said Dr. Neil Reimer, administrator of HDOA’s Plant Industry Division. “Through past experience, we know we can contain an infestation if we find it in its early stages.”

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, move quickly and are 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 completely overrun a property. They will also freely move into homes.

Infestation of LFA

Infestation of LFA

The first detection of LFA in Hawaii was in the Puna area in 1999. Surveys determined that LFA appeared to have been on the east side for several years prior to their initial detection and was widely distributed in Puna. Attention was then focused on controlling ant populations and preventing the spread to non-infested areas on the island and to other islands.

In October 2009, LFA was detected on a farm in Waihee, Maui. Eradication efforts at that site appear to have contained the infestation, which is being continually monitored. HDOA staff also trained Maui County employees, MISC and private pest control operators on Maui to assist in recognizing and reporting possible infestations on the island. MISC is also assisting HDOA in conducting surveys at high-risk areas on Maui.

Attached is a HDOA Pest Advisory that contains information on LFA and its history in Hawaii.
(Also available on the department’s website: http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/pi/files/2013/01/npa99-02-lfireant.pdf).