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Little fire ants detected at Wailua River State Park

WAILUA — A new population of little fire ants in Wailua River State Park has been confirmed, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture (HDOA) and Kaua‘i Invasive Species Committee (KISC) recently surveyed the surrounding area. The survey found the new infestation of the invasive species covers 13-35 acres, the DLNR said.

KISC is overseeing ongoing surveys to determine the full extent of the infestation. The population was originally verified from a sample submitted by an individual.

“The location of this LFA (little fire ant) population is concerning because of its proximity to Wailua River,” said Curt Cottrell, administrator of the DLNR Division of State Parks, in a statement.

He added that LFA can raft along waterways, allowing them to spread greater distances. KISC is working to find a perimeter of the infestation.

“After we identify the size and terrain, we begin to develop a response plan, brainstorm management strategies and list resources needed to address the population,” said KISC Manager Tiffani Keanini in a statement.

Confirmation of the new little fire ant population comes during “Stop the Ant Month” in Hawai‘i. The campaign is a multi-agency effort aimed at encouraging community awareness and participation to combat negative economic and environmental impacts of LFAs.

Prior to 2022, LFAs were established at three locations on the island — 11 acres in Kalihiwai in 1999; 2.5 acres in Kilauea in 2019; and 12 acres in Moloa‘a in 2020.

LFA populations have been controlled and reduced to nearly undetectable levels at Kalihiwai and Kilauea, the DLNR said. Treatment efforts are ongoing at Moloa‘a, and recent surveys have shown the population is under control.

“New detections of little fire ants are always concerning,” said Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser, chairperson of the Hawai‘i Board of Agriculture, in a statement. “As with previous incidents, we appreciate the cooperation between the multiple agencies in helping to contain infestations and prevent the further spread of these invasive ants.”

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Wyatt Haupt Jr., editor, can be reached at 808-245-0457 or
Source: The Garden Island

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