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Little Fire Ants Discovered in Hawai?i Volanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Little Fire Ants have been found in Hawai?i Volcanoes National Park.

Park officials announced today they have discovered the presence of the invasive ants in the popular Steam Vents area and Mauna Ulu parking lot.

Little Fire Ants are an invasive species – which can have devastating impacts on native ecosystems and human health.

Since 2014, Hawai?i Volcanoes National Park has taken action to prevent the ants from entering the park. But this year, officials have encountered them a dozen times.

"We are concerned for the health and safety of our staff and visitors, and the fragile Hawaiian ecosystems of the park," said David Benitez, park ecologist. "LFA (Little Fire Ants) really depend on humans to move them around. We need everyone to ensure their vehicles and gear are free of ants before coming into the park."

Officials are extensively sampling areas in the park to determine if the ants are more widespread. Park scientists are working with partners to respond quickly to the threat and evaluate control options while ensuring visitor safety and protecting native ecosystems. No bites have been reported, and no ant-related closures are currently in effect.

More information about the ants, how to control them, and how to prevent them from spreading can be found at littlefireants.com

Casey Harlow was an HPR reporter and occasionally filled in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
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