HAWAII NATIONAL PARK (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii Volcanoes National Park officials say Thursday that unwanted visitors have been found on the grounds: Little Fire Ants.
The red ants, which are no longer in size than the thickness of a penny, have been found in the popular Stream Vents area and Mauna Ulu parking lot.
LFA is an extremely invasive and noxious species that can have devastating effects to people’s health and native ecosystems.
Though they are little, these ants pack a serious punch. If stung, it can feel like a burning rash, leaving people with welts that are itchy and sore.
This is the first time populations of LFA have been found in the park.
But in 2018 alone, officials have come across the tiny, biting ants around a dozen times.
“We are concerned for the health and safety of our staff and visitors, and the fragile Hawaiian ecosystems of the park,” said David Benitez, park ecologist.
Benitez says the ants depend on people to move them around by sticking to cars, hiking gear and more.
"We need everyone to ensure their vehicles and gear are free of ants before coming into the park,” he said.
Since 2014, park officials have tried to prevent the presence of LFA in the park by monitoring equipment, construction material and vehicles that can transport them.
Meanwhile, here on Oahu a community in Mililani Mauka was hit hard by a LFA infestation in 2015.
For more information on LFA, click here.