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Little fire ants declared eliminated from Mililani Mauka section

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    A multi-agency group surveyed 21 residences in the six-acre zone between Auina and Kopalani streets. Surveying involved dropping about 1,000 vials containing peanut butter and collecting ants for identification. Greg Schuster, above, a research assistant with the state Department of Agriculture, shows a vial smeared with peanut butter. At right, a specimen of dead fire ants shown by the state Department of Agriculture in 2014, with the inset photo provided by the agency.


    A specimen of dead fire ants shown by the state Department of Agriculture in 2014.


    LFA 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 completely overrun a property. They will also freely move into homes.

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

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