The Hawaii Department of Agriculture on Wednesday declared little red fire ants eradicated from a Mililani Mauka neighborhood.
A multi-agency pest detection crew conducted a final survey of 21 homes between Auina and Kopalani streets, finding no trace of the pest first discovered in the neighborhood in June 2014.
There has been no trace of little fire ants in the area for about three years, the department said.
To survey the homes Wednesday, crew members dropped approximately 1,000 vials containing peanut butter, and collected them for examination about an hour later.
“As it is, (the) little fire ant is very distinguishable and it’s the only one that we know is attracted to peanut butter,” said John McHugh, administrator of the department’s Plant Industry Division.
Little fire ants (wasmania auropunctata) are native to South and Central America, and were first detected in Hawaii in 1999 in an infested area in Puna on the Big Island. The ants subsequently were found on Maui and Oahu, and in Mililani Mauka in June 2014.
A sting from the ant can cause blindness in animals and severe pain in humans.
“For household pets sometimes, like dogs and cats, that walk into a nest it can bite around their eyes and cause blindness,” said McHugh. “So, it’s a serious insect pest.”
Infestation zones in Mililani Mauka covered six acres, including the homes on Auina and Kopalani streets, and a greenway between the two streets. A treatment plan implemented by the Hawaii Ant Lab and HDOA used several alternating types of pesticides and bait formulas. Treatment was conducted in six-week intervals, with the last round conducted in May 2015.
Although no little fire ants were detected in Wednesday’s survey, state officials said they will continue to monitor the perimeter for reinfestation.
For more information on little fire ants, visit 808ne.ws/fireants2017.
By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines.
Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.