What can you do? – Simply collect and send us your ant samples for identification.
You can use your own chopsticks/stir sticks or pick up a free little fire ant test kits that have all the materials you need. Free kits are available at:
Mānoa Public Library: 2716 Woodlawn Dr. Manoa, HI 96822 HOURS
Waikīkī-Kapahulu Library: 400 Kapahulu Ave. Honolulu, HI 96815 HOURS
Waimānalo Library: 41-1320 Kalanianae‘ole Hwy. Waimanalo, HI 96795 HOURS
Yamashiro’s Hardware: 45-552 Kamehameha Hwy
Kāne‘ohe, HI 96744 HOURS
Ko‘olau Farmers: 45-580 Kamehameha Hwy
Kāne‘ohe, HI 96744 HOURS
VCA Kaneohe Animal Hospital: 45-608 Kamehameha Hwy, Kāne‘ohe, HI 96744 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 be sure of a successful eradication of an infestation of little fire ants. This includes the 8 treatments, followed by years of regular monitoring. 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.
Lanikai – July 2019
Background: A Lanikai resident had first noticed a persistent rash and constant painful itching. After a doctor’s visit couldn’t detemine the cause, he googled they symptoms and found information about the little fire ants and decided to check his property with the peanut butter/stick test and officials confirmed little fire ants. After a deliminting survey, there are six properties that have the ants. It’s unknown how they got there, but thankfully they were found before they spread further.
Current Status: Active – Treatment cycle began in July 2019.
Kualoha Ranch – June 2019
Background: The area involved is about 14 acres in an area that previously underwent a native species restoration project and currently is not open to human foot traffic. A buffer zone of 20 acres is being planned for treatment, which will begin when the master treatment plan is finalized.
Current Status: Active – Kualoa Ranch Land Stewardship teams have already begun treatment in applicable locations within the area. LFA crews have been working with the ranch to survey the area and as of July 18th, 2019, a treatment strategy is near completion.
Punahou Carnival Plant Sale – February 2019
Background: A resident in Kaimuki reported that she and her infant were stung while in bed. A fern purchased at the Punahou Carnival on Feb. 2nd had been placed on a nightstand next to the bed and the resident noticed tiny ants crawling on the nightstand. She collected samples and brought them to HDOA on Feb. 25th. The ants were confirmed as LFA by state entomologists. The staghorn plant was bagged and frozen to destroy any ants. Other plants that the resident purchased at the carnival were also checked and no more LFA were detected. The nightstand area was the only place in the home where LFA were found.
Punahou School officials and carnival coordinators are fully cooperating with the Hawai‘i Dept. of Agriculture. The Hawai‘i Ant Lab surveyed the areas at the school where the plants were staged and sold and no little fire ants were detected. Plants for the Punahou Carnival are donated by the community. HDOA is working with the carnival coordinator to try and determine where the plant in questions came from. They are asking anyone that donated staghorn ferns to please contact HDOA so they can survey that location and remove any little fire ants found. Anyone who donated plants or have concerns about plants purchased at the carnival should contact HDOA Plant Pest Control Branch at (808) 973-9538.
If you purchased plants from the carnival, test them for little fire ants. Put a thin smear of peanut butter on the end of chopsticks or coffee stirrers and place them in the plant and around your property in shady areas. Leave them out for an hour. Any ants found should be put in a ziptop bag and frozen overnight. Then you can mail or drop them off to any HDOA office on Oahu. Ants need to be looked at under a microscope to identify the species.
Again, if you donated plants to the carnival or have concern about plants purchased, you can call HDOA at 973-9538. Anyone who purchased plants should test them for ants. You can find a video about surveying on www.stoptheant.org.
‘Āhuimanu – January 2019
Background: In late January, an ‘Āhuimanu resident reported stinging ants and HDOA entomologists confirmed that they were LFA. Surveys of the area and a nearby home of a relative detected two infestation sites around ‘Āhuimanu Rd. Crews conducted multiple surveys of the neighborhood to determine the boundaries of the two infestations. The main site involves 13 properties and the other site involves five properties, totaling about three acres, including 15-meter buffer zones around each site. The infestations in Kaneohe and ‘Āhuimanu do not appear to be related.
Current Status: Active – The first of eight treatments was conducted on March 7th, 2019. The area will undergo the treatment plan developed by HAL researchers, several types of pesticides and bait formulas are applied on a six-week interval for a total of eight treatments. Monitoring of the area will continue for several years. on March 7th, 2019 by the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture (HDOA) and the Hawai‘i Ant Lab (HAL). Crews also conducted the second treatment of the Kāne‘ohe neighborhood where LFA was detected in December. HDOA Plant Pest Control specialists from Hawai‘i Island were also brought in to help conduct
Kāneʻohe – December 2018
Background: On December 13, 2018, a resident on Alokahi St. contacted HDOA to inquire about ants in her home. The resident added that she had traveled to Hawai‘i Island. On December 19th, staff from HAL retrieved the ant samples which were identified as LFA on December 20th by an HDOA entomologist. On December 21st, HDOA and HAL staff returned to the home and conducted a survey of the exterior of the residence and detected LFA in the patio, carport and along the perimeter of the property. Staff returned on December 24th to survey two surrounding properties which also had LFA.
A larger survey of 12 properties in the area was conducted on January 4th and LFA was found in seven of those properties. On January 9th, another survey of two additional properties was conducted and one was found to have LFA. According to the treatment plan developed by HAL researchers, several types of pesticides and bait formulas are applied on a six-week interval for a total of eight treatments. Monitoring of the area will continue for several years.
Current Status: Active – The first of eight treatments on a total of 11 properties covering about two acres were treated on January 24th, 2019, including a 15-meter buffer zone around the infestation area. The area will undergo the treatment plan developed by HAL researchers, several types of pesticides and bait formulas are applied on a six-week interval for a total of eight treatments. Monitoring of the area will continue for several years.
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.
- Deliver or mail the zip to bag of dead ants to the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture for identification.
- Smear a thin coat of peanut butter on one end of a disposable chopstick or popsicle stick.
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 either location:
- Oʻahu Invasive Species Committee
- Mon-Fri, 7:00am-3:30pm
- 743 Ulukahiki St.
- Kailua, HI 96734
- Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture
- Mon-Fri, 7:30am-4:00pm
- Honolulu, HI 96814
- 1428 S. King St.