HONOLULU — An extensive survey of an area in Waimanalo has determined approximately 4 acres are infested with little fire ants, tiny invasive ants that can inflict painful stings. Crews surveyed more than 50 acres from Kumuhau Street to Mahailua Street in Waimanalo and determined that the infestation area is on state land and in mulch areas located outside nurseries in that area. Little fire ants were detected previously on hapuu from Hawaii Island at a few nurseries and garden shops earlier this year, but those areas were treated and are now clear of little fire ants.
Survey operations were headed by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture and involved several agencies including: the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hawaii Ant Laboratory, Oahu Invasive Species Committee, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species, Hawaii Invasive Species Council, The Nature Conservancy, University of Hawaii, City & County of Honolulu, and Hawaii National Guard.
Little fire ants have been found on Hawaii Island since 1999. In late December, the ant was detected on hapuu logs (Hawaiian fern) at retail stores on Maui and Oahu. Since its detection, Oahu and Maui nurseries have been surveyed. Five Oahu nurseries, three of which were in Waimanalo, were found to have small infestations of little fire ants, which were treated and are clear of the ants.