Little fire ant infestation under control in Mililani Mauka

Published: Feb. 19, 2015 at 7:51 PM HST
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MILILANI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - "It was a very scary time for us. We've all read the stories of the little fire ants, and all the damage they can do and the pain they can cause." Dave O'Neill, general manager of the Mililani Town Association, describes what it was like for residents of a Mililani Mauka neighborhood back in June.

The Department of Agriculture sent out survey teams. What they found was an infestation covering 22 properties. Gerald Tanaka's was one of them.

"My wife got bit by it. For several days she was in pain, very itchy and sore" ,he said.

The Department of Agriculture got to work. The treated the ants on the ground using approved pesticides. They used a bait matrix in the trees to attract the ants. Once the ants ingested the bait, their reproductive systems were inhibited.

It was the first infestation of LFA's in a residential area on Oahu. Derek Arakaki, a noxious weed specialist for the DoA, described the lessons learned.

"Actually the terrain is easier than working in a wooded area. Everything is constant, you don't have movement, and the residents were really cooperative."

Arakaki said that if just one resident did not allow the state workers to treat their property, the infestation would remain. However, everyone complied and after 5 of 8 scheduled treatments, the infestation has been beaten back.

Tanaka said cooperation was a no-brainer. "If it ever gets out, it would change our lifestyle. You wouldn't want to go out in your yard, wouldn't want to go outside."

The state will administer the three remaining treatments, then monitor the area for another two to three years.

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