EDITOR’S NOTE: Maui County Communications Director Rod Antone reissued the following press release this afternoon to correct a mistaken phone number previously provided. The correct number for the Department of Agriculture is noted below. However, the topic is serious enough that we are re-posting the entire press release for the benefit and information of anyone previously unaware of the very serious issue of little fire ants (LFA) and the potential destruction LFA can cause.
WAILUKU – The County of Maui Office of the Mayor is working with the State Department of Agriculture (DOA) to get the word out about an infestation of Little Fire Ants on Maui. According to DOA officials the ants spread to Maui from Hawaii Island back in December, however further investigation has shown that the ants may have been coming over on interisland shipments to Maui for the past year.
“This is a serious matter,” said Mayor Alan Arakawa. “These ants can wreak havoc on a community. Their stings can cause a lot of pain and even blind your pets if you are not careful. We need to help the Department of Agriculture to identify possible infestation sites so that they can contain the situation. We don’t want another invasive species on our island if we can help it.”
According to the DOA the ants were traced back to hapu’u (Hawaiian tree fern) shipments at Lowe’s and Home Depot on Maui. Department officials are asking that any Maui resident who purchased hapu’u from either store over the last 12 months to check their fern and the area where it is located for ants.
The best way to do this is to apply peanut butter to a chopstick and push the stick into the fern or the ground nearby. If you see ants on the chopstick place the chopstick in a plastic bag and put the bag in your freezer. Then call the DOA and an inspector will be sent to your residence for further investigation and if need be, treatment to rid the area of ants.
Please note that the LFA is no more than 1/16 of an inch in length and should not be confused with the larger, tropical fire ant that has already established itself on Maui. The number to call the Dept. of Agriculture on Maui is 872-3848 or contact the Maui Invasive Species Committee at 573-6472.