Volunteers unite to stop little fire ants

Little fire ants are unwanted pests that were discovered on Oahu over a year ago.

Since then, officials and residents have been trying to get rid of the insects.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell proclaimed November first as “Stop Little Fire Ant Day.”

That’s exactly what volunteers from Go Farm Hawaii did Saturday.

Volunteers surveyed areas in Waimanalo, looking for the tiny pest with a powerful punch.

“They’re not like tropical fire ants we all grew up with. They’re hiding in places we’ll never be able to see,” says Christy Martin with the Coordinated Group on Alien Pest species.

Little fire ants originated from South America. Experts believe the invasive species found its way to the Big Island, then spread to Oahu. Infestations in both Waimanalo and Mililani-Mauka have been discovered.

The stinging bugs are unlike the more commonly tropical fire ants. Instead of burrowing in the ground, little fire ants nest under leaf litter, or under tree bark and tops of trees. Eventually, they’ll spread to your home.

“They have a horrible stinging bite, can blind animals and literally drive people out of houses. We have to control them,” says Thomas Grande of Kakalina Farm in Waimanalo.

Volunteers were also testing areas in Waimanalo to make sure the current infestation there won’t spread to other towns.

Community members want more people to take action against the stinging bugs.

“We need to encourage people to test their own yards. Especially if they live in wet areas,” says Grande.

CGAPS says surveying for little fire ants is easy. Use peanut butter.

Spread a very thin smear of peanut butter on disposable sticks… Then place them in shady, moist areas in your yard.

After an hour, carefully pick up any sticks with ants and place them in ziploc bags. Keep the bags in the freezer overnight to kill the ants.

Martin says doing this will save your families, pets, and natural environment from serious harm.

Label the bag with your contact information, then mail or deliver the bags to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture at 1428 King Street, Honolulu, HI 96814.

 

Some video courtesy of Christy Martin, CGAPS

 

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