Since the discovery of Wasmannia auropunctata on the Big Island in 1999, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture has enacted quarantine regulations to prevent the shipment of potted plants infested with little fire ant from the Big Island to other islands.
- This ant is orange-red to light brown in color, all workers are 1.5 mm in length (half the size of a sesame seed, or as long as a penny is thick, about 1/16 “)
- Slow-moving, easily dislodged from leaves, plants, and trees
- Tolerates wetter conditions and lives in leaf-litter or trees
- Native to Central and South America, LFA were accidentally introduced as hitchhikers on imported plants
- Delivers a painful sting when disturbed. Welts can last for weeks
- Infests agricultural fields and farms, where they damage crops and sting workers
- Promotes plant pests such as aphids, white flies and scale insects, which secrete plant sap that the ants eat. In turn, the ants protect these insects from natural predators and parasites.
- Can also infest houses, beds, furniture and food
- Has been known to cause corneal clouding and blindness in pets
- In the Galapagos, LFA eat tortoise hatchlings and attacks the eyes of adult tortoises
- One infestation is known in the Kalihiwai area and is under active control by KISC and HDOA.
- The Pono Endorsement program promotes Best Management Practices to help stop the introduction or spread of LFA. Pono Endorsed Nurseries and Landscapers are doing their part to another introduction of LFA by adopting pono business practices that help keep LFA from hitchhiking to Kauai.
- You can help plant pono by reporting Testing for LFA and reporting LFA to KISC at 808-821-1490 or firstname.lastname@example.org or HDOA at 643-PEST. Report any suspected Little Fire Ants immediately!
- Use a wooden chopstick or stir stick and dip in peanut butter
- Place peanut butter dipped sticks around yard in shady areas
- Leave sticks out for at least 1 hour
- Collect sticks and place in plastic bag
- Freeze bag for 24 hours
- If you suspect LFA, write your name, location, and phone number on bag, and mail or drop off bag to HDOA or KISC office
- HODA: 4398 A Pua Loke St, Lihue
- KISC: 7370 #K Kuamoo Rd, Kapaa
- LFA have a few look-a-likes: please check to see if your ants are look-a-likes are before sending in your specimens.
- Solenopsis geminata, the Tropical Fire Ant is very commonly mistaken as the Little Fire Ant. If you’ve been stung by an ant on Kauai, it was most likely a Tropical Fire Ant. Tropical Fire Ants are widespread on Kauai, mostly found on the South and West sides. Their habits are far different from those of the Little Fire Ant, in that they build mounds on the ground, are fast moving, swarm, and most distinguishable, are much bigger than the Little Fire Ant.