The Oahu Invasive Species Committee assisted the Hawaii Department of Agriculture along with the Hawaii Ant Lab, Oahu Army Natural Resources Program, and the Hawaii Invasive Species Council in the second monitoring survey in Mililani-Mauka. The last treatment was in May 2015, and the area is now in the monitoring phase of the eradication process.
The survey team laid 1500 vials baited with peanut butter to attract any ants in the area. All vials came up negative for little fire ant. These monitoring surveys will continue, and if no little fire ants (LFA) are found after three years from the last treatment, the area is deemed eradicated.
While three years may seem like a long time, it is necessary because little fire ants are pros at hiding. Not only do they nest on the ground, they can also nest in the tallest of trees, remaining in the canopy for many months before coming down to the ground to forage. The ants often get blown or knocked out of the trees, stinging humans and animals below. This is the problem they have on Hawaii Island, where LFA have been established and spreading since 1999.
These arboreal (tree nesting) colonies is what makes eradication difficult and time consuming…but not impossible. Getting the pesticide to the ant colonies high in the trees is hard to do. The Hawaii Ant Lab has helped overcome this hurdle by developing an application method using a gel bait they shoot up into the trees.
The sooner LFA are detected, the better.
Little fire ants do not move very far on their own. It is through our movements of infested materials that helps them spread. You can help keep Oahu LFA free! Simply test your property at least once a year and keep in mind; small infestations are fairly easy to eradicate. While finding little fire ant populations is disheartening, finding a population whose large size makes it impossible to eradicate is DEVASTATING!
So please, test and report…STOP THE ANT!
For more information on little fire ant, visit stoptheant.org