The Hawaii Dept. Of Agriculture will begin treatment next month to eradicate a colony of Little Fire Ants in Waimanalo, officials said Friday.
Out of roughly 1,500 ants collected from bait traps throughout a 50-acre area from Kumuhau St. to Mahailua St., only 60 were Little Fire Ants, according to Rob Curtiss, the department’s LFA incident commander. The infested area is estimated at three-and-a-half acres. The total treatment area, including a buffer zone, will cover six acres.
“It’s a small enough infestation that using the methods that have been developed by the Hawaii Ant Lab that have been already proven to eradicate infestations of the same size, we’re certain we can eradicate it,” Curtiss said.
The multi-step plan includes preparing access routes for treatment, multiple applications of several types of pesticides over a period of one year, pesticide monitoring and continued surveying of the area.
Curtiss says Hawaii Ant Lab will administer eight treatments over a 12-month period. Personnel with the department’s Pesticides Branch will also be on hand to ensure the treatments are compliant with pesticide laws. Water samples from the stream will be taken throughout the treatment period to test for pesticide residue.
“There will be a combination of three different pesticides,” he explained. “There will be a Tango, which will be applied to the gel bait into the trees. There will be granular baits, two different ones, which we will switch on and off to change the chemical that’s being used against the ants so they don’t get used to it.”
After one year of treatments, the department will monitor the area for three more years to confirm the eradication. The department is also monitoring nearby nurseries, though none show signs of infestation, Curtiss said.
The colony, which is located in a gulch and an abandoned lot, had likely been there for several years undetected, he added.
Officials say LFA was detected previously on hapuu from Hawaii Island a few nurseries and garden shops earlier this year, but those areas were treated and are now clear of LFA.
The department urges the public to continue reporting potential infestations by calling its toll-free Pest Control Hotline at 643-PEST (7378).