Hawaii Volcanoes National Park officials have detected Little Fire Ants in portions of the park.
The LFA were discovered in the popular Steam Vents area and Mauna Ulu parking lot.
This is the first known populations of the species in the park.
Park officials are conducting intensive sampling to determine if the ants are more widespread. Scientists are working with partners to respond quickly to the threat while protecting visitor safety and native ecosystems.
“We are concerned for the health and safety of our staff and visitors, and the fragile Hawaiian ecosystems of the park,” said David Benitez, park ecologist. “LFA really depend on humans to move them around. We need everyone to ensure their vehicles and gear are free of ants before coming into the park,” he said
No bites have been reported and no closures are in effect.
LFA are an invasive species which can have devastating impacts to native ecosystems and human health.
Since 2014, HVNP has worked to prevent the introduction of LFA by monitoring equipment, construction material, and the vehicles that transport them, before they enter the park.
This year, officials have intercepted the small, biting ants a dozen times.