Oahu homeowners have to battle Little Fire Ants on their own

You’re on your own — at least for a couple of months.

That’s the warning from the State Department of Agriculture for those people whose homes in Mililani-Mauka are infested with Little Fire Ants.

It is still not known how many more homes in the community are now infested with the pest. Inspectors say they will know only after they complete their survey of the infected homes, and until that survey is done, the department will not have a plan to take on the pest.

The Little Fire Ants have moved from where they were first detected in several homes on Auina St. to the other side of an adjacent gulch, to Kapolani St.

It will be weeks before the department completes its survey to determine the true extent of the infestation. In the meantime, homeowners are being told they are on their own and don’t expect help from professional exterminators.

The only ones with the know-how to take on the little fire ants are on the Big Island. The department is working to bring that expertise to Oahu.

“And that will be happening,” said Rob Curtiss, the department’s acting plant pest control branch manager. “Dr. Cas Vanderwoude of the Hawaii Ant Lab has been scheduled to come here and train pest control operators in the next couple of months.”

What to do in the meantime? You will be told to go online and check with the experts with the Ant Lab at www.littlefireants.com.

The battle will be difficult — you cannot just pick up a can of insecticide from over the counter. But you can find solutions on store shelves.

“It describes how they can make their own boric acid bait,” said Curtiss. “It also describes a few other pesticides including Amdrol and an insect growth regulator called Tango.

“It’s potentially a huge infestation here in Mililani and we are expecting to find other infestations elsewhere on Oahu,” he said, “and as we find more (ants), we’re going to need more and more help.”

Curtiss says that due to lack of manpower and funds, the Department of Agriculture is fast-approaching the end of its capacity to deal with the little fire ants on its own, and will need the help of the public to detect, and fight, the pests.

State Senator Donovan Dela Cruz and State Representative Beth Fukumoto are sponsoring a town hall meeting for the residents of Mililani-Mauka on the little fire ant infestation.

That meeting will include experts on the insect pest, as well as various government agencies. It will be held on Monday, July 14, at Mililani-Mauka Elementary School, starting at 7 p.m.

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