The Hawaii Department of Agriculture is reminding residents to check for an invasive ant species after the ants have been detected in new areas on Oahu and Kauai.
Little fire ants have been found recently in Pauoa and Laie on Oahu along with in Waihee on Maui and Kilauea on Kauai, the Agriculture Department said.
HDOA said there are seven sites being treated on Oahu, two on Maui, and one on Kauai for infestation of the ants, a species from South America that is considered among the world’s worst invasive species.
Other Oahu neighborhoods being treated for the ants are Kaneohe, Ahuimanu, Lanikai, Kualoa, and Makiki Heights. A neighborhood in Wailuku, Maui is also being for the ants.
The ants can cause painful stings, large red welts and even blindness in pets. The species also can build large colonies on the ground, in trees, and inside homes and completely overrun properties.
“The increasing number of LFA detections in previously uninfested areas should be cause for concern for everyone,” said Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “It is imperative that residents check their properties periodically to prevent the spread of infestations in their neighborhoods.”
Residents on Oahu, Kauai, and Maui should survey their properties for the ants by using peanut butter on a chopstick and leaving the chopsticks in several areas for about one hour, the Agriculture Department said.
Any ants collected should be put in a sealable plastic bag and frozen for at least 24 hours before being dropped off or mailed to any HDOA office.
Suspected invasive species should be reported to the state’s toll-free pest hotline: 643-PEST (7378).