Little fire ants have been found within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island.
A spokesman for the park says the problem began last November, but due to the government shutdown, they couldn’t carry out any projects including this one to get rid of the little fire ants.
In that time, the infestation grew.
“It is pretty shocking to see that much… to see them establish to that degree. Three acres is a lot,” said Jessica Ferracane, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park spokesman.
Ferracane says the infestation extends from the Steam Vents parking lot to the trail leading to the Steam Vents lookout.
“Little fire ants are an extremely serious invasive species, and they have devastating effects to native ecosystems and the human health,” said Ferracane.
They believe that the ants were brought in by a vehicle, since the population was first discovered in the parking lot.
She says that while the park does inspect cargo that comes in for little fire ants, they’re asking the public to do their part as well.
“Visitors and employees and volunteers,and anybody coming into the park can help us by not eating in your car, not leaving open food containers in your car, sweet drinks, things like that,” said Ferracane.
She says there will be routine closures once about every six weeks for treatment. The Steam Vents parking lot and trail will be closed during this time as the treatments take place. The Steam Vents lookout will be open, however.
She says if everything goes well, they may be free of little fire ants in two years.
The first little fire ant treatment will take place on Thursday, Mar. 14 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.