LIHUE — New little fire ant infestations have been found on Kauai and Oahu.
Treatment of the infested area on Kauai started Oct. 21.
The Hawaii Department of Agriculture announced Friday that a new infestation was detected on 2.5 acres in Kilauea, on 13 different properties, and HDOA is partnering with the Kauai Invasive Species Committee to treat the infested area.
On Oahu, neighborhoods in Kaneohe, Ahuimanu, Lanikai, Kualoa, Makiki Heights, Pauoa and Laie are being treated. Areas in Wailuku and Waihee on Maui are also being treated.
“The increasing number of LFA detections in previously un-infested areas should be cause for concern for everyone,” said Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “It is imperative that residents check their properties periodically to prevent the spread of infestations in their neighborhoods.”
There are testing kits available at libraries around the island to raise awareness. KISC also has access to kits for residents who would like to test properties for LFA.
The tests are simple — put a little bit of peanut butter on a few chopsticks and leave them in several areas around the property for about an hour. Any ants collected should be put in a sealable plastic bag, placed in the freezer for at least 24 hours and dropped off or mailed to any HDOA office.
Little fire ants are originally from South Africa and pack quite a punch — they’re only about 1/16th of an inch long and can leave red welts and blind pets with their painful stings.
LFA move slowly, unlike the tropical fire ant, which is established in Hawaii, which can move quickly and are much larger, with a larger head in proportion to its body.
LFAs can build very large colonies on the ground, in trees and other vegetation, and inside buildings and homes, and completely overrun a property.
Suspected invasive species should be reported to the state’s toll-free pest hotline, 643-PEST (7378).