Little Fire Ants in Mililani Mauka Disappearing

Posted on Feb 19, 2015 in Main

Eradication Program Showing Early Signs of Success

NR15-02
Feb. 19, 2015

HONOLULU — The eradication program for the little fire ant (LFA) infestation in a Mililani Mauka neighborhood is showing early signs of success. After completing five of the eight planned treatments in the six-acre infestation zone, spot surveys have not detected LFA.

“While we are still guarded in our assessment, the fact that we aren’t finding little fire ants indicates that the eradication plan is working pretty well,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “The collaboration between multiple agencies, area legislators, the community association and the residents is really the foundation of this early success.”

LFA was first detected in Mililani Mauka in June 2014 by a resident on Auina St. Subsequent surveys found the invasive ants covered homes on both sides of a greenway (gully).

A multi-agency group has been working since to survey and treat the area. The agencies include HDOA, the Hawaii Ant Lab (HAL), the Oahu Invasive Species Committee and the Hawaii Invasive Species Council.

According to the treatment plan developed by HAL and HDOA entomologists, several alternating types of pesticides and bait formulas are applied on a six-week interval. The last treatment scheduled for Mililani Mauka is in May 2015, after which an extensive survey will be conducted. Monitoring of the area will continue for several years.

“We would not have been able to accomplish as much as we have without the exemplary cooperation of the Mililani residents and the town association,” said Neil Reimer, PhD, administrator of HDOA’s Plant Industry Division. “We received 100 percent cooperation from the residents in allowing us on their properties and many helped us conduct surveys and even took time off from work to help us.”

Area legislators, including State senators Michelle Kidani, Donovan Dela Cruz and Representative Beth Fukumoto Chang were also key in helping to spread the word in their community.

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. 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. There is a six-acre area in Waimanalo that is also under treatment for LFA.

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.

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

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News coverage on update in Mililani Mauka