Little Fire Ants (LFA) were first detected in the State of Hawaiʻi in the Puna District of the Big Island in 1999.
This invasive species is now widespread throughout East Hawaiʻi between Laupahoehoe and Kalapana, which provides the perfect climate for their survival. It is important to understand, however, that LFA has been detected in all districts on the Big Island. By themselves LFA spread slowly, but with the help of people, they spread very quickly. They are transported via produce, potted plants, landscape materials, plant cuttings, etc. While we can’t achieve island-wide eradication, it is possible for homeowners to control the population on their property. Residents with confirmed LFA on their property can sign up for the Hawaii Ant Lab training to learn how to best manage the problem and keep impacts low (see details below).
BIISC offers education and assistance for tackling LFA. Hawaii Island residents can work with BIISC to organize an 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 assistance in control of LFA. To request a community information session or for more information about the neighborhood support program, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (808) 933-3340. More information can be found at www.biisc.org/lfa.
Remember, LFA are “hitch-hiker” ants
Check anything you bring to your home to make sure you are not accidentally bringing LFA as well. Prevention is the first line of defense against LFA. It’s not difficult, but does take vigilance and knowing what to look for. You can do this by checking high risk item such as potted plants, mulch, cinder, and other landscaping materials using the chopstick method.
The Hawai‘i Ant Lab (HAL), a UH Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit Program, is based in Hilo, but assists in LFA matters statewide. HAL works with the community to spread knowledge on prevention and treatment methods which can be employed by residents, small plant venders, and nurseries.
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
Telephone: (808) 315-5656
Fax: (808) 974-4148
Big Island 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. Contact Franny at email@example.com for more information!