Little Fire Ants Spread to Kona

Posted on Jan 27, 2010 in 2010 News Releases, News-Releases

NR10-02 – January 27, 2010

HONOLULU – The Hawai`i Department of Agriculture (HDOA) has confirmed that an invasive stinging ant called the Little Fire Ant (LFA) has spread from the east side of Hawai`i Island to the west side.  LFA (Wasmannia auropunctata) was detected earlier this month at two locations in Kailua-Kona.  One site is a residence and the other is a holding yard for a landscaping firm, which may have been infested for about two years according to the owner.  State entomologists believe that it is likely that there maybe other unreported locations that are infested in West Hawai`i.

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.  They can produce painful stings and large red welts and may cause blindness in pets.  They can build up very large colonies on the ground and in trees and other vegetation and completely overrun a property.  They will also freely move into homes.

The first detection of LFA in Hawai`i was in the Puna area in 1999.  Surveys determined that LFA appeared to have been on the west 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 uninfested 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 treated with pesticides.  This eradication effort will continue for at least nine months to ensure eradication.  HDOA staff has also trained Maui County employees, the Maui Invasive Species Committee (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.  So far, there have been no other detections of LFA on Maui.

To view a previously issued Pest Advisory with background information and photos of LFA, go to: http://hawaii.gov/hdoa/pi/ppc/npa-1/npa99-02-lfireant.pdf

 

Suspected LFA or other stinging ants should be reported to:

HDOA Hawai`i Island Office – 974-4140

HDOA Maui Office – 873-3962
Or to the State’s toll-free PEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST (7378).

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