What can you do? Test your yard or property for little fire ants!
We need your help! October is “Spot the Ant, Stop the Ant Month”…you can pick up free test kits at these Oʻahu locations to collect and send in your ant samples:
Kapolei Public Library: 1020 Manawai St. Kapolei, HI 96707 HOURS
Mānoa Public Library: 2716 Woodlawn Dr. Manoa, HI 96822 HOURS
Waikiki-Kapahulu Library: 400 Kapahulu Ave. Honolulu, HI 96815 HOURS
Waimānalo Library: 41-1320 Kalanianaeole Hwy. Waimanalo, HI 96795 HOURS
Pearl City Home Depot: 1021 Kamehameha Hwy, Pearl City, HI 96782 HOURS
Current Status on Oʻahu
Note that these ants may be present anywhere on Oʻahu, and the status report is only for infestations that were discovered and reported. We need your help to find them before colonies grow too large to eradicate. Oʻahu has the highest population of all the islands, which means that we have a greater chance of catching little fire ants before they become established. Test your property at least once a year and Find them before they find you…survey your yard and submit your ant samples to the Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture.
It may be helpful to understand that it takes at least 4 years to eradicate an infestation of little fire ants! The Hawaiʻi Ant Lab (HAL) tested and recommends a 4-year treatment and monitoring regime to eradicate little fire ant infestations. This consists of a full survey to find the edge of the infestation, followed by treatments of the area (plus treatment of a “buffer zone” around the edge) every 6-8 weeks over the course of one year. At the end of the year, an intensive survey is conducted to detect any remaining little fire ants. If ants are found, that site is treated in the same manner for an additional year. If and when no ants are found, the site moves into the next phase of the eradication program, which is quarterly surveys for at least 3 years. Only at the end of this treatment and monitoring regime can an infestation be considered eradicated.
Infested materials have, and continue to slip through inspection, and small pockets of little fire ants are still being found in and around nursery and landscaping businesses. These businesses are cooperating fully with HDOA and the O‘ahu Invasive Species Committee to survey for, and treat these pests. The success of eradication efforts to date are largely the result of vigilance and cooperation, guided by good science.
Background: Located on an abandoned lot, this was the first large infestation discovered on Oʻahu. Detected in April 2014, the infestation and treatment area is roughly seven acres. Based on the size of the population, LFA had likely gone unnoticed and/or unreported for several years before it was detected. The Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture, the Hawaiʻi Ant Lab and the Oʻahu Invasive Species Committee conducted ten treatments between May 2014 and April 2015,
Current Status: Monitoring Phase. The infestation in Waimānalo also received 1 year of treatment cycles, although during the post-treatment surveys, a small amount of ants were found in two spots within the treatment area. One group were found in the canopy of a large tree and the other in a heavily vegetated spot. These areas have undergone more spot treatment and ants are no longer detected. The entire site will be continue to be surveyed quarterly until at least three years after the last ant detection.
Background: Mililani Mauka is the second large infestation detected on Oʻahu and the only known infested residential site. In June 2014, a resident brought ant samples from his yard to HDOA after being stung and because of this, the infestation was discovered while it was relatively small (about 20 adjoining properties & green spaces). Equally important, all the neighbors allowed staff on their property to test for and treat the ants. Beginning in August 2014, HDOA, HAL and OISC began treating every six weeks.
Current Status: Monitoring Phase, meaning that the area was treated for 1 year and no little fire ants were detected at the post-treatment survey or subsequent quarterly surveys. The site will be monitored for little fire ants quarterly until at least the end of 2018 (unless ants are detected again).
*LFA queens walk to start new colonies (instead of flying away to start a new colony), so an infestation grows only about 60 feet per year. Of course, we spread LFA much more effectively when we accidentally move their colonies hidden in plants, cut flowers, fruit, or other materials from infested areas. It is possible to stop LFA from invading Oʻahu, but we need your help to find them. TEST YOUR PROPERTY at least once a year, or anytime you bring new plants or high-risk materials to your property. Samples of dead ants may be submitted to the Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture.
How to Test (how to collect ants):
- Smear a thin coat of peanut butter on one end of a disposable chopstick or popsicle stick. If you are allergic to peanuts, use small pieces of luncheon meat and tongs to retrieve the pieces.
- Place sticks in shady areas in, around, and on plants, including potted plants, around pet feeding areas, and trash cans. For a thorough survey, place at least three sticks per plant, and/or one stick every two feet. Leave the sticks out for 45 minutes to 1 hour to attract ants.
- Carefully pick up the sticks (so the ants don’t fall off!), and seal them in a plastic bag. Write your name, contact number, and the date on the bag and freeze for 24 hours to kill the ants. An address is helpful, but not required.
- Deliver or mail the zip to bag of dead ants to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture for identification.
- Just because you have ants, doesn’t mean they are little fire ants. Some ants are look-a-likes and require an expert to identify them. Turn in ALL ant samples for identification and peace of mind.
On Oʻahu you can mail or drop off your ant samples to:
- 1428 S. King Street
- Honolulu, HI 96814