The Hawaii Deptartment of Agriculture (HDOA) has confirmed the presence of the little fire ant (LFA) in Mililani Mauka. LFA has been a problem in Waimanalo nurseries since December, but this instance is the first confirmation of LFA in a residential neighborhood on Oahu. LFA is also present on the Big Island, Maui and Kauai.
LFA is a tiny orange ant that is known to sting both people and their pets -- which can cause pet blindness. Once LFA spreads, eradication will be difficult so it is extremely important that Mililani residents learn how to spot LFA and contact the state's Pest Hotline immediately at 808-643-PEST. For more information on LFA, click here: dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/info/little-fire-ants-on-oahu-response-updates.
Knowing that LFAs were a serious concern for Hawaii, the Legislature appropriated $5 million this year toward prevention and control of invasive species (including LFA) through the invasive species council. I supported increasing funding for the invasive species council, and I'll be meeting soon with various parties to make sure that resources are going toward prevention and eradication of LFA in Mililani.
Unfortunately, invasive species defense was severely underfunded in previous years, with no funds being appropriated to the invasive species council from 2009-2012. This lack of funding in the past means that the council -- now funded -- has catching up to do, and my office will help however we can. In the meantime, those of us who live in Mililani Mauka need to be particularly vigilant by performing our home surveys and notifying the department of any LFA sightings.