Officials want to wipe out fire ants on Oahu


HONOLULU — State agriculture officials in Hawaii are about to launch an aggressive 12-month program to wipe out little fire ants on Oahu.

The Honolulu News-Advertiser reported Saturday that Hilo’s Hawaii Ant Lab will use pesticides to treat a 3.5-acre area to get rid of the ant before it gains a foothold.

Robert Curtiss, acting manager of the state Department of Agriculture Plant Pest Control Branch, says if the area is clear of ants after a year, the treatments will stop.

Officials want to avoid the fate of Hawaii island, where the little fire ant’s range spread over the entire island after it was first discovered there in 1999.

A University of Hawaii study estimated that Oahu could face $170 million a year in losses in the ant spreads unchecked.