A large infestation of Little Fire Ants has been found on Maui.
According to the Maui Invasive Species Committee, a resident mailed in a sample, which officials confirmed to be the stinging pests.
The infestation is estimated to be 12 acres in the Kapalua area. Experts say the ants appear to have been present for a significant amount of time, probably years.
Wildlife officials are concerned because of its proximity to Haewa Point, the largest active coastal seabird nesting colony on the island.
“When chicks begin to hatch from their eggs, ants, seeking the abundant protein of a meat meal, will enter the initial hole, opened by the chick to exit, and eat the emerging chick before it can break out of the egg shell,” explained Jay Penniman, manager of the Maui Nui Seabird Recovery Program. Repeated stings can also affect the chicks’ development.
No Little Fire Ants were found in the seabird colony.
Treatment will begin next month.