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. In addition, LFA has been detected (though not always widespread) 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. For those who have confirmed LFA on their property, sign up for the Hawaii Ant Lab training to learn how to best manage the problem and keep impacts low (see details below). Also, the Big Island Invasive Species Committee (BIISC) can help communities who have come together and want to tackle their LFA problem. Contact BIISC to bring a LFA training program to your neighborhood.
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.
Remember, LFA are “hitch-hiker” ants
Check anything you bring to your home to make sure you are not accidentally bringing LFA as well.
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