Posted June 15, 2015 by Rachel Smith
The Little Fire Ant population on Kauai is well on its way to being phased out. Last week the KISC crew, along side the Hawaii Ant Lab (HAL) crew, and Craig Kaneshige from Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA), visited the LFA infestation site on the north shore of Kauai and were greeted with great results.
Since Little Fire Ants are an arboreal ant species, testing and treating them can be somewhat difficult. An average day at the LFA infestation site includes, crew members from all three organizations rappelling down cliff sides in order to search and treat for LFA colonies, throwing testing vials up into the canopy, and treating known colonies with Hawaii Ant Lab’s special peanut butter ant spray.
The three crews convene once every 6 weeks, and most recently, gathered last week. Each visit, the crew members attach small plastic clear vials to a rope and launch the vial up into the trees. Inside the vial is a smear of peanut butter, which if any LFA were present, they would be attracted to. After 24 hours, crew members return to the site, pull the vials down from the trees and examine if and what, has been trapped inside. Last week, crew members spent four days at the LFA site, and the vials that descended from the trees, came down with some exciting results…empty vials! This means, the LFA population is dwindling, and the work of HODA, HAL, and KISC, is paying off. We now look forward to more of our LFA site visits being more like last week’s. If we continue to find empty vials, over the next few site visits, we hope to move away from the treatment stage and closer to the monitoring stage.
Phasing out the Little Fire Ants on Kauai has been a long and arduous undertaking. We are lucky here, that the only introduced population to Kauai has remained in the same location. If we can continue to suppress the current population, and prevent any new incoming populations, we can look forward to one day soon being LFA free!