USDA Forest Service is taking the little fire ant infestation on Guam seriously and has recently awarded a $50,000 grant to Dr. Ross Miller of the University of Guam Entomology Lab. He is teaming up with the Department of Agriculture (DOA) to implement control procedures for Wasmannia auropunctata, the scientific name for little fire ant (LFA).
"The Department of Agriculture has already begun LFA control efforts and this grant will allow our lab to offer technical expertise and assistance in pre and post treatment surveys as well as the actual control of the ants," said Miller. His team is conducting a detailed sampling for LFA in two areas that DOA has already been treating with pesticides including Tango™, an insect growth regulator. "We expect the impact of the pesticides to be rapid, but we need to sample the areas multiple times for 2 years without finding LFA to say they are truly gone. We expect to demonstrate that these ants can be controlled, which is why ongoing funding is crucial," said Miller.
If you haven't been affected by LFA yet, without these control efforts you will be! Little fire ants have established in areas throughout the island, so it is very important that people do not transport soil, plants, or plant parts that may be infested with LFA.
The little fire ant is on the list of the top 100 nastiest invasive species worldwide and is considered the greatest invasive ant threat to the Pacific region. They deliver a very painful sting causing an extremely itchy rash. Guam has already had one incident of a child needing medical treatment after being stung by LFA. Since they can live in trees, LFA drop on people when the wind is strong, or when people brush against plants while walking through the jungle, or while harvesting fruit. In some places in Tahiti and Hawaii, people can no longer harvest their crops and have given up farming in areas infested with LFA.
Guam Department of Agriculture and University of Guam personnel continue their collaborative efforts to protect the island's natural environment from the devastating effects of invasive species. It takes everyone on the island to do his or her part in controlling an invasive insect like the little fire ant.
For more information on LFA, please visit http://www.