Categorized | Agriculture

Little Fire Ants spread to Kona


The state Department of Agriculture (HDOA) has confirmed that an invasive stinging ant called the Little Fire Ant (LFA) has spread from the east side of Hawaii Island to the west side.

Little Fire Ant worker (Photo courtesy of W. Nagamine / State Department of Agriculture)

LFA (Wasmannia auropunctata) was detected earlier this month at two locations in Kailua-Kona.

One site is a residence and the other is a holding yard for a landscaping firm, which may have been infested for about two years according to the owner.

State entomologists believe it is likely there may be other unreported locations that are infested in West Hawaii.

Originally from South America, LFA is considered among the world’s worst invasive species.

LFA are tiny ants, measuring 1/16th inch long, are pale orange in color and move slowly. They can produce painful stings and large red welts and may cause blindness in pets.

They can build up very large colonies on the ground and in trees and other vegetation and completely overrun a property. They will also freely move into homes.

The first detection of LFA in Hawaii was in the Puna area in 1999. Surveys determined LFA appeared to have been on the west side for several years prior to their initial detection and was widely distributed in Puna.

Attention was then focused on controlling ant populations and preventing the spread to uninfested areas on the island and to other islands.

In October 2009, LFA was detected on a farm in Waihee, Maui. Eradication efforts at that site appear to have contained the infestation, which is being continually treated with pesticides. This effort will continue for at least nine months to ensure eradication.

HDOA staff has also trained Maui County employees, the Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC) and private pest control operators on Maui to assist in recognizing and reporting possible infestations on the island.

MISC is also assisting HDOA in conducting surveys at high-risk areas on Maui. So far, there have been no other detections of LFA on Maui.

Suspected LFA or other stinging ants should be reported to:

* HDOA Hawaii Island Office – 974-4140

* HDOA Maui Office – 873-3962

* Or to the State’s toll-free PEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST (7378)

To view a previously issued Pest Advisory with background information and photos of LFA, visit:

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