The state Department of Agriculture is providing $200,000 and the Hawaii Invasive Species Council has awarded a grant of $175,000 that will allow the Hawaii County Department of Parks and Recreation to establish a little fire ant control program at county parks and facilities.
The funding will be used to hire up to three full-time employees who will work exclusively fighting ant infestations islandwide, purchase bait and equipment and finance transportation needs, according to the county.
Once an infested park or facility has been identified, the little fire ant team will apply bait on a six-week cycle, rotate the bait type based on recommendations from the Hawaii Ant Lab, and then monitor the treated area to ensure a reduction in ant infestations.
Similar treatments conducted at Richardson Ocean Park in Hilo have reduced little fire ant populations by up to 40 percent, according to data collected during a recently completed pilot project involving the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Hawaii Ant Lab.
Little fire ants have established colonies in numerous areas following their discovery on Hawaii Island in 1999.