There are two new little fire ant infestations in Windward Oahu located on Kualoa Ranch and Lanikai.
Both were initially found due to little fire ant bites.
In Lanikai, six houses have been affected. Lanikai resident Tom, was the first to report the infestation.
“I would end up with bites and rash all over the side and my back. I thought maybe it was mosquito bites but they wouldn’t go away,” Tom said.
“They just made pretty bad raised welts,” Tom said. “The symptoms would not go away, you know, just constant itching pain.”
He went to the doctor’s office and they didn’t know at first what had caused the rashes. So, he had googled the symptoms and little fire ants popped up.
“I read about little fire ants, but I knew we didn’t have them here,” Tom said. “I didn’t consider that as a possibility.”
After a few more weeks, he finally decided to check and take the peanut butter test, just in case.
“Went out and did the test, which is smearing some peanut butter on a chopstick, and putting that out in the yard in a few areas,” Tom said. “Sure enough, I had these chopsticks covered with tiny little orange ants.”
Since then he says he hasn’t been out in his yard, especially since the little fire ants were found in the trees around his property.
It’ll actually fall out of the trees and we have a large banyan tree so they’re basically just raining down on you,” Tom said.
He is also unable to move greenery in his yard until the infestation is cleared in case the ants move somewhere else.
At Kualoa Ranch, the little fire ants were found by employees who had gotten bitten. They tested the area and confirmed the little fire ants infestation in 14 acres of land.
They say that the Department of Agriculture is still coming up with a plan to take care of the little fire ants, but in the meantime, they have started their own treatment.
“We’ve also started our own control measures here with our own stewardship department in regards to using some of the same products and baits that The Hawaii Ant Lab has recommended to us. just getting the ball rolling,” said Taylor Kellerman, Director of Diversified Agriculture and Land Stewardship at Kualoa Ranch.
He says that the infestation will not affect their tours or guest services.
“What’s nice about the location that it is in, if you were to have this issue, is that because it’s very centrally located in the sense that it’s in a defined area,” Kellerman said. “It makes treatment and control that much effective.”
One of the major signs that you may have an infestation is the little fire ant bites. Their bites can be very painful and create a large welt or rash that may last more than a few days.
Other signs include:
- Seeing small, slow-moving orange or red ants
- Movements of soil, plants and mulch
If you suspect you may have an infestation, you can call the state’s toll-free PEST HOTLINE – 643-PEST (7378).
You can also test for little fire ants in your home.
First, by spreading peanut butter on a stick and leaving it in areas around your home where you think there may be an infestation. Leave the sticks out for about 45 minutes to an hour.
Pick up the sticks (with ants) and place it in a plastic bag. Freeze the bag for 24 hours to kill the ants, then finally submit the bag to local invasive species authorities.
For more information on LFA in Hawaii, go to the HAL website at: http://www.littlefireants.com/