Couple discovered new small fire ant infestation in Huelo | News, sports, jobs

Small fire ants are collected during a survey. According to the Maui Invasive Species Council, a new ants infestation has been discovered in Huelo. MISC file photo

A new infestation of small fire ants was discovered in Huelo after a couple reported the stinging pests on their property.

The Maui Invasive Species Committee received a voicemail from the couple in early May stating that tenants had been stabbed in the torso while gardening on the property. MISC and the State Department of Agriculture examined the property and positively identified small fire ants. MISC’s little fire ant team has thoroughly mapped the infestation and begun treatment, a press release said Thursday.

MISC is working with the landowner and tenants to determine where the ants might have come from. Despite their proximity to another infestation in Huelo, the sites don’t appear to be related, MISC said.

“If the community continues to be our eyes and ears by reporting suspicious ants, we can prevent the little fire ant from establishing itself on Maui.” That said MISC manager Adam Radford in the press release. “Reporting is critical to finding and eliminating these invasive ant populations. Hence, if you get used to contacting MISC if you are stung by a suspicious ant, it is a great way to keep our island safe from these invasive species. If you get a stitch, give us a call! “

Small fire ants are shown on a penny. Invasive pest stings are painful and can blind pets. ZACH PEZZILLO Photo

Community efforts have resulted in the discovery of 12 of the 18 known small fire ants infestations on Maui, MISC said. Once detected, each infestation is treated for about a year and then monitored. There are only six locations, including the recently confirmed population in Huelo, where small fire ants are still present and under active control.

In Maui, funding from the county and the Hawaii Invasive Species Council supports little fire ant control efforts. The Department of Agriculture inspects incoming plant material to prevent infestation and assists MISC with investigations and control efforts.

According to the Hawaii Invasive Species Council, small fire ants have been found on Maui, Oahu, Kauai, and Hawaii where they are widespread. Animals often leave the areas where ants are settled, as do hikers, farmers and hunters. When small fire ants invade yards and homes, pets can be blinded and residents decide to move, MISC said.

MISC recommends that residents collect ants in their gardens for identification at least once a year and every time new materials such as mulch or nursery plants are purchased. To test for small fire ants, smear a bit of peanut butter or mayonnaise on several thin strips of cardboard and place them in shady spots in the garden. After 45 minutes, collect the samples with ants; put them in a plastic bag labeled with your name, address and contact information; and freeze for 24 hours to kill the ants. Maui residents can mail it to MISC at PO Box 983, Makawao, HI 96768.

More information is available at

If you have any concerns, questions, or reports, contact MISC at (808) 573-6472 or [email protected] Reports can also be submitted through

Small fire ants are shown on a penny. Stings from invasive pests are painful and can blind pets. ZACH PEZZILLO Photo Small fire ants are collected through a survey. According to the Maui Invasive Species Council, a new ants infestation has been discovered in Huelo. MISC file photo

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