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Andaz Maui Issues Statement on Fire Ant Eradication Effort

Image courtesy W. Nagamine & the Hawaiʻi State Department of Agriculture. [1]

Image courtesy W. Nagamine & the Hawaiʻi State Department of Agriculture.

By Wendy Osher

The Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort issued a statement today confirming that they conducted an eradication effort after a small infestation of the invasive little fire ant was found at the property in May [2].

“Upon discovery, the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort acted immediately to eradicate the ants from the property, working in close cooperation with the Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture and Maui Invasive Species Committee,” the statement said.

In the statement, hotel representatives called the finding “extremely small” and said it was confined to a landscaped area of the property that measured less than 400 square feet.

“There is no known threat to the public or hotel guests. The Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort takes the welfare and safety of its guests very seriously and is committed to long-term monitoring and treatment as necessary,” the statement said.

Maui Invasive Species Committee manager Teya Penniman, also commented saying, “Everyone we worked with at Andaz Maui, from the landscapers to management staff, was very cooperative. They want to do the right thing – get rid of the ants.”

Penniman also provided additional information on our Maui Now Facebook page, making the following points:

  1. It’s important not to confuse little fire ants with tropical fire ants: The tropical fire ants which are much bigger, have been here a long time, she said. They also have a nasty sting, but not as devastating overall as the little fire ant, according to Penniman.
  2. The hotel infestation is very small: The entire 15-acre property has been and will continue to be surveyed. Penniman said they were lucky to find the infestation at an early stage and said “total eradication is the likely outcome at this site.”
  3. Test your home or business: Always test new plants or soil or mulch you bring home before planting or spreading. Two short videos show you how include the one provided in this post (above), and another found here [3].

According to MISC officials, the Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture usually does not disclose locations because if they did people and businesses probably wouldn’t report suspected new infestations of invasive species. Penniman said circumstances could warrant a change in this policy, for example if uncontrolled spread was likely and the landowner wasn’t cooperative.

In this particular case, Penniman said the hotel was very cooperative.

Agricultural officials say the little fire ant is considered among the world’s worst invasive species.

Board of Land and Natural Resources Chair William Aila, Jr. commented in an earlier announcement saying, “This tiny ant can inflict painful stings to children, pets and adults, but fortunately, testing for its presence is easily done. The state has a well-established system in place for people to submit their surveys for further testing to determine whether LFA has spread to a particular property or plant material.”

The little fire ant has been on Hawaiʻi Island since 1999, but was first detected on Maui in late December of 2013 [4] on hāpuʻu logs found in a retail store [5].

Agricultural officials believe the ants spread to Maui from Hawaiʻi Island, and also confirmed infestations on hāpuʻu tree ferns at several garden shops on Oʻahu and as well as a 6-acre area in Waimanalo on Oʻahu.

Anyone that suspects they have an infestation of invasive species, is asked to report the incident to the state’s toll-free pest hotline at (808) 643-PEST (7378).