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Mayor Kim’s Testimony Urging Passage of Little Fire Ant Bill

Hawai‘i County Mayor Harry Kim submitted the following letter to Senator Mike Gabbard, Chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Environment this afternoon Wednesday, March 7, 2018:

This testimony is in support of HB 2046, HD 1, but first I want to thank you for the time and energy that you and your colleagues have devoted to invasive species in general, and to little fire ants in particular.  A year ago, the Council of Mayors identified invasive species as a top priority that deserved everyone’s attention. Our best efforts at the county level are often inadequate to protect our islands from harmful pests, and limited resources make it imperative that the State, counties, Feds, and private sector work together in pursuing solutions to what often seem intractable problems.  This legislature really stood up last year, and hopefully will do even more this year.

The possible exception (so far) of the parakeet problem, it seems that Hawaii County has suffered a disproportionate share of the damage caused by invasive species, including Rapid ‘Ōhia Death, little fire ants, coqui frogs, coffee berry borer and probably others. However, all our islands, and all our constituents, are at risk. My primary request to you would be “Please don’t give up.” As a county,  we do not have the resources or expertise to fight these devastating invaders on our own. We need as much assistance from the State as you can offer.

Particularly with respect to little fire ants, it sometime seems that we have thrown in the towel. This must not happen—it is a horrific species that causes great pain in humans and has been reported to cause blindness in dogs, cats, pigs and horses. We have to make the effort to fight back, and HB 2046 HD 1 is a foot in the door, in the geographic area that may still be salvageable. Please provide as much funding as you can manage, broaden the initiative if you think it is appropriate, and let’s move forward.

While I would defer to others as to how precious dollars should be allocated, I strongly endorse the investment of funds in combating little fire ants, and therefore urge passage of HB 2046, HD 1.

Respectfully submitted,

Harry Kim, Mayor, County of Hawai‘i

HB 2046 Appropriates funds to the Department of Agriculture for outreach and education efforts in West Hawai‘i county regarding the detection and treatment of little fire ants.

Mayor Kim to Declare October “Stop the Ant” Month in Hawaii County

This Friday, September 29th, Mayor Harry Kim will sign a proclamation declaring the month of October “Stop the Ant Month” for Hawaii County.

The Big Island will be joining with the rest of the state in an effort to raise awareness about the threat of little fire ants in Hawaii. The tiny pest, first detected in Puna in 1999, has been confirmed in every district on Hawaii Island and populations have been found on Oahu, Maui, and Kauai.

Little fire ants are considered a threat not just because of their painful sting, but also due to their impacts on agriculture and threat to food security. Little fire ants are associated with plant pests such as aphids and mealy bugs, and have driven farmers in other Pacific islands to abandon their farms. They are also associated with cloudiness and blinding in the eyes of domestic animals, including dogs, cats, and horses.

On the Big Island, residents have been very active in working to reduce LFA populations and mitigate the threat. In the last two years alone, over 2,000 Hawaii islanders have attended training on LFA control provided by BIISC or the Hawaii Ant Lab. More than two dozen neighborhoods are currently working on a year-long plan to eradicate the ants from localized areas.

Stop the Ant month is an effort to urge all residents of the state of Hawaii to survey their property for little fire ants. Because the ants are tiny (less than 1/16th of an inch) they are difficult to see. Ants can be present for six months ore more before they reach noticeable levels, and many people mistakenly believe the ants are not present because they have not yet been stung.

To remain fire ant-free, Big Island residents should survey for fire ants using peanut butter and chopsticks 4 times a year. Infestations can be controlled, but require regular and consistent effort.

More information can be found at StopTheAnt.org.

HDOA Serves Warrant to Gain Access to Maui Property Infested with Little Fire Ants

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) obtained a court-ordered warrant and entered the property of a Maui resident who has continuously denied access to the property that was suspected of being infested with little fire ants (LFA).

lfa

LFA were detected in the Huelo neighborhood in early 2015 and surrounding properties have been under treatment to eradicate the stinging ants. With the warrant, HDOA Chairperson Scott Enright and department pest control personnel were able to survey the 1.75-acre property on Monday, Sept. 12 and found LFA infestations in potted plants and kalo patches.

“After months of unsuccessful discussions with the resident, the department was forced to take legal action in order to have any chance of eradicating this serious threat to the state,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture.

HDOA has not taken this type of legal action since 2000 during the eradication efforts for banana bunchy top virus on Hawaii Island. Usually, the department tries to work cooperatively with residents, farms and nurseries to eradicate invasive pests. Eradication efforts have been extremely successful on Oahu, in Mililani and Waimanalo, mainly due to the cooperation of residents and residential associations.

HDOA crews will return to the Huelo property to begin treatment of the infestation. Treatment of the Huelo property will include appropriate treatment for the kalo, because it is an edible crop.

LFA was first detected on Maui in 2009 on an organic farm in Waihee. The infestation was successfully eradicated in one year following the eradication protocol developed by Dr. Casper Vanderwoude of the Hawaii Ant Lab and the ongoing efforts of the Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC). In late 2013, LFA was found on Maui and traced to infested hapu`u logs imported from Hawaii Island, where LFA is widely established.

Originally from South America, LFA is considered among the world’s worst invasive species.  LFA are tiny ants, measuring 1/16th of an inch long, are pale orange in color and move slowly, unlike the tropical fire ant which moves quickly and are much larger with a larger head in proportion to its body. Tropical fire ants have been well established in Hawaii since before the 1870’s. 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, buildings and homes and may completely overrun a property to the point of abandonment.

For more information on LFA in Hawaii, go to the HDOA website: http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/pi/main/lfainfo/

Little Fire Ants Invade Hawaii – State Wasting Money Trying to Eradicate Them

Well the Little Fire Ants have now spread statewide here in Hawaii… don’t expect the State to protect you or your pets.

little fire antThe amount of money that the State of Hawaii is wasting on Little Fire Ants and attempting to control them is amazing.  Those of us that live in Puna know that you can’t get rid of them once you get them.

The state needs to look at other options like us Puna residents do now and educate folks how to keep them out of your house and away from your pets.

Take action now and do things like use ant insecticide chalk and other measures such as keeping your house clean of food items they could access to keep them out of your house.

Yes, the pain from a Little Fire Ant hurts like a bitch! Keeping them outside of your house is the best recommendation I can make.

Odorous House Ants Now in Hawaii

Great! First it was the Little Fire Ants that bothered me…  now I have to worry about Odorous ones!

…Odorous house ants — so called because they tend to invade houses and smell like coconut when smashed — have found their way to Hawaii. And, according to Purdue University entomologist Grzegorz Buczkowski, it doesn’t seem as though they have plans to end their vacations.



”Odorous house ants in Hawaii are not like they are here in natural areas where they live in small colonies. They are creating megacolonies like they do in urban areas,” said Buczkowski, whose findings were published in the journal Myrmecological News. “We went there to eliminate the ants, but we found it’s too late to treat for them...”

More Here: Invasive Ants March in Hawaii