State of Hawaii

05/22/2024 | News release | Distributed by Public on 05/23/2024 00:10

DOA News release on little fire ant surveys at Pua Lani Landscape









May 23, 2024

Surveys of the area will continue

HONOLULU - The Hawai'i Department of Agriculture (HDOA) has conducted two surveys for little fire ants (LFA) at Pua Lani Landscape Design, a Waimānalo nursery that came to the forefront during a Joint House and Senate Legislative Informational Briefing earlier this month.

The first survey was conducted by the HDOA Plant Quarantine Branch (PQB) on May 10, with the full cooperation of the nursery. A crew of seven from the PQB deployed more than 630 LFA bait vials, placed about 10 feet apart, throughout the 4-acre nursery. LFA were not found in plants in the production area; although, LFA were found in some areas along the perimeter of the nursery and near a storage structure. PQB staff flagged those areas and the nursery worked to treat those areas with an approved pesticide.

A follow-up survey was conducted on May 20, focusing particularly along the perimeter of the property, which was found to be clear of LFA, except for one spot near a stream on the edge of the property away from the production area. Another survey of the nursery will be scheduled in about one month. A survey was also conducted in the area across the stream and LFA were found there. HDOA will be following up with the landowners on the opposite side of the stream and other surrounding properties for comprehensive surveys.

HDOA encourages nurseries, as well as residents, to test for LFA using a simple peanut butter stick test. LFA populations can be controlled, especially when detected early and in limited areas. For a video on how to do LFA surveys and to obtain free test kits, go to the Hawai'i Ant Lab (HAL) website at:

LFA are tiny ants, measuring approximately 1/16 of an inch in length; are a uniform pale orange in color; and generally move very slowly and are easily dislodged when disturbed. LFA sting readily when they get under clothing. The stings are painful, resulting in welts and itching that can persist for weeks. LFA stings to animals result in skin issues and when stung in or near their eyes, permanent cloudiness of the eyes can occur.

Native to South America, LFA was first discovered on Hawai'i Island approximately 25 years ago. At that time, there were no effective treatments available and LFA has spread widely across that island. LFA populations have since been detected throughout most of the state, with ongoing control projects involving joint efforts between the HAL, the Hawai'i Invasive Species Council, the Invasive Species Committees in all counties in the state and HDOA.

Suspected LFA infestations on O'ahu, Kaua'i and Maui County may be reported to the state's toll-free Pest Hotline at: 808-643-PEST (7378).


Media Contact:
Janelle Saneishi, Public Information Officer
Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture
[email protected]

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