HONOLULU (AP) - Hawaii lawmakers want to swat down a pair of invasive pests: the coffee berry borer and the little fire ant.
The insects pose considerable threats to Hawaii's fragile environment. House lawmakers are proposing to spend $3 million next year to control coffee berry borers, up from $250,000 last year. The tiny African beetles were first noticed in Hawaii in 2010. They live in the fruit of coffee plants and have infested Hawaii's rich Kona coffee region. One producer testified Thursday that the bugs infested 20 percent of the coffee brought to his mill this year.
Lawmakers also want to test for and destroy little fire ants. The ant's painful sting can cause blindness in livestock and pets. The ants also are known to kill young birds and sea turtle hatchlings.