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New Infestations of Little Fire Ants Discovered on Maui

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Little Fire Ants

Two new infestations of little fire ants were discovered on Maui, the Maui Invasive Species Committee announced today.

The first finding was at a plant nursery in South Maui during the week of Dec. 4, 2017. According to MISC, inspectors from the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture were following up on recently discovered shipments of LFA in plant material from Hawai‘i Island when they came across the approximately one acre infestation.

The inspectors contacted MISC and together they surveyed the nursery to determine the full extent of the infestation.

MISC says infested material was quarantined and treated and the nursery is now open for business. The nursery voluntarily agreed not to sell material from the infested area and closed its doors until treatment was complete.

To date, no other infestations have been discovered spreading from the nursery. “This underscores the importance of quarantining and testing any plant material you are bringing to your home or property, particularly if it’s coming from Hawai‘i Island,” said MISC manager Adam Radford.

Aside from inspections at ports and harbors, HDOA inspectors regularly visit nurseries on Maui as part of their efforts to stop the movement of LFA.

The second infestation was reported by a Hāna resident during the same week. The resident claimed to have been stung for several months while working outside but had assumed it was common skin irritation from stinging vines.

MISC crews in Hāna surveyed the property and have been working to determine the extent of the infestation and if it was spread to other locations.

The extent of the little fire ant population is not known, however, MISC says several acres have been surveyed in the Kaeleku area of Hāna above Hāna Hwy. Crews are surveying all locations where material from the infested property had been moved and to date no other populations of LFA have been found.

MISC says the two recent detections are not suspected to be associated with one another. However, the Kaeleku LFA population is suspected to be linked to the large 20+ acre infestation of LFA in Nāhiku.

There will be a community meeting on Jan. 23, 2018, at Helene Hall at Hāna Bay.

Learn more about LFA including how to detect them here [2].