Ant specialist hired to wipe out Waimanalo fire ants

By Paula Akana
Published On: Apr 17 2014 06:25:15 PM HST
Updated On: Apr 17 2014 07:14:41 PM HST

Oahu's bringing in a specialist to Waimanalo to wipe out the menacing, stinging pests known as little fire ants.

WAIMANALO, Hawaii -

Oahu's bringing in a specialist Thursday to wipe out the menacing, stinging pests known as little fire ants in Waimanalo. Officials say it comes with no guarantees, but this hired gun says they have to try.

Click here to watch Paula Akana's report.

"All through this site we have metal stakes and some are 12 inches high. They're kind of man killers," said Vanderwoude.

Cas Vanderwoude's a hired killer from The Hawaii Ant Lab. He's on the hunt for little fire ants on four acres of state land.

The state ant specialist is based on the Big Island where the little fire ants are a big problem. They bite pets and leave them partially blind and sting humans too.

"Even though it's arboreal, it lives in trees. It's really not good at hanging on. Even a gentle breeze like this will dislodge some of the ants and they fall on whoever and if that, a person – they get stung," said Vanderwoude.

He will help state agriculture officials to combat the little fire ant on Oahu, but says it will be tough.

"It's an extremely difficult site. The access is a big problem and there are a lot of hazardous items in here, so we have to plan this out extremely carefully," said Vanderwoude.

"One of the problems we've had with little fire ants is they nest on the ground, but they also nest in trees, which makes them very difficult to reach," added Vanderwoude. "So we've developed a paste bait which is a glue-like consistency that we can shoot up into the trees as well as onto the ground."

He says they are close to eradicating the little fire ant on Kauai and Maui.

"Eradications are notoriously difficult to pull off. They require a lot of time and a lot of planning and careful monitoring afterwards," said Vanderwoude. "It's very important that we give it a shot because I've seen the results of little fire ants spreading indeterminately on the Big Island and I can assure you it's not what we want for this island."

Vanderwoude says he believes it is too late for eradication for the Big Island.

He says scientists have done genetic testing on the Big Island little fire ants and have determined they come from Florida.

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