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Little fire ants found at Maui hotel

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 7:31 p.m. HST, Jun 18, 2014

State officials are hopeful the early discovery of a small infestation of little fire ants at a Maui hotel will keep the invasive species from taking up residence there, prompting a video on how they can be detected.

The infestation at the Wailea hotel was confirmed in May and covered an area of about 400 square feet, where a pesticide treatment was used.

"The area of infestation was caught early and crews are extremely confident that it can be eradicated," said Scott Enright, chairperson for the Hawaii Board of Agriculture in a press release. "We cannot express enough how important it is to find any infestation before it becomes widely established." 

The Department of Land and Natural Resources has produced a three-minute video, "How to Test for LFA," which shows step-by-step procedures. It is available at: The video is also available on state agriculture department and DLNR websites, Facebook and YouTube pages. 

Little fire ants have been found on Hawaii island since 1999, but in December 2013 were detected on Hawaiian fern at  stores on Maui and Oahu. Small infestations at five Oahu nurseries, three of which were in Waimanalo, were treated and the ants eradicted.

The tiny pale orange ants are about 1/16th inch long and move slowly. They can produce painful stings and large red welts and may cause blindness in pets. They can build up very large colonies on the ground, in trees and other vegetation, and buildings and homes and completely overrun a property. 

Suspected invasive species should be reported to the state's toll-free PEST HOTLINE - 643-PEST (7378). 

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