Little Fire Ants (LFA) were first detected in the State of Hawaiʻi in the Puna District of the Big Island in 1999.
It is important to understand that LFA has been detected in all districts on the Big Island. This invasive species is now widespread throughout East Hawaiʻi between Laupahoehoe and Kalapana, which provides the perfect climate for this tropical rain forest species. By themselves LFA spread slowly, but with the help of people, they spread very quickly.
Remember, LFA are “hitch-hiker” ants!!
Prevention is the first line of defense against LFA. Check anything you bring to your home to make sure you are not accidentally bringing LFA as well. They are easily transported via things like produce, potted plants, landscape materials, plant cuttings, coconuts, pineapple tops, etc. It’s not difficult, but does take vigilance and knowing what to look for. Place high risk items in a quarantine area (dedicated open area in your yard treated with a residual chemical barrier is ideal) and survey for LFA.
Big Island residents who are unsure if they have LFA should check at least 4 times a year.
TREAT, TREAT, TREAT!
While we can’t achieve island-wide eradication, it is possible for homeowners to control the population on their property. Using baits is the most effective way to deal with ants since they are social insects and will share the baits with the queens and other workers. Baits must be broadcast on a dry day (at least 4 hours of dry weather) throughout an infested area every 4-6 weeks for a least one year to see real control of these pests. After one year, survey the property again to see if you still detect ants.
Contact one of the resources below in order to get details and answer any questions you have about detection and treatment!
Resources for Battling Little Fire Ants on Hawai’i Island-
The Hawai‘i Ant Lab (HAL), a UH Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit Program, is based in Hilo with a satellite office on Oahu, and assists in LFA matters statewide. HAL works with the community to spread knowledge on prevention and treatment methods which can be employed by residents, farmers, and nurseries. HAL can work with you on best management practices for prevention and treatment of LFA.
Residents with confirmed LFA on their property can sign up for the Hawaii Ant Lab monthly ant management clinic to learn how to best manage the problem and keep impacts low.
Ant samples collected after surveying can also be mailed to us (See address below) for proper identification under the microscope.
The Hawaiʻi Ant Lab’s mission is to:
- Protect Hawaiʻi from new intentional and unintentional introductions of invasive ants
- Prevent the inter-island and intra-island spread of existing invasive ant species
- Provide sound, practical treatment methods for homeowners, natural resource managers, and industry
- Eradicate new incursions whenever possible
For more information visit: www.littlefireants.com
Hawai‘i Ant Lab
Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit
University of Hawai‘i
16 E. Lanikaula Street
Hilo, Hawai‘i 96720
Community Assistance & Training
BIISC offers education and assistance for tackling LFA. Hawaii Island residents can work with BIISC to organize a free information session in their community to raise awareness and learn how to survey and treat for LFA effectively. More than two dozen neighborhood groups across the Big Island, from Keauhou to Kalapana, have already entered BIISC’s neighborhood hui program, receiving hands-on instruction and ongoing support to control LFA. To request a community information session or for more information about the neighborhood support program, contact BIISC or find more info at www.biisc.org/lfa.
Big Island Invasive Species Committee
23 E. Kawili St.
Hilo HI 96720
Big Island Schools & Teachers:
Want resources you can use in your classroom to teach your students about little fire ants and invasive species? BIISC offers classroom visits, powerpoints, lessons, activities, and more to help you connect your students with real-world problems happening right on the Big Island. Have LFA on school property and need assistance? Contact Franny at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.