October is “Stop the Ant Month”: Help find the hidden ants of Hawaiʻi

Posted on Sep 29, 2023 in News

Stop the Ant month with text collect and submit ants, find them before they find you

As we step into October, Hawai`i marks the return of the annual “Stop the Ant Month.” It’s not just an annual chance to talk about invasive ants in Hawaiʻi, but a call for every islander to help us find potentially unknown ant species that might be lurking in our very backyards. This multi-agency effort will be ongoing throughout the month to encourage residents to collect and submit ants from their properties to help detect and control the spread of invasive little fire ants (LFA) and other harmful pest ants that may be new to the state.

The little fire ant (LFA) has been spreading, popping up in new locations across the state this past year. This tiny orange ant, only 1/16th of an inch long, poses a significant threat to our local ecosystems, agriculture, quality of life, and has become notorious for causing blindness due to stings in pets that are exposed to heavy infestations. But beyond the LFA, the possibility remains of other yet-to-be-identified invasive ants lurking in our backyards, parks, beaches and forests, and that’s where the combined efforts of our community comes into play. 

Residents may request a free ant-collection kit through the website: www.StopTheAnt.org, or can make their own using household supplies. We are asking everyone to collect ants from their properties by using a thin smear of peanut butter on the tips of several chopsticks and leaving the sticks around their property for about 30 minutes to attract any ants in the area. After a half-hour, sticks should be carefully collected and sealed in a zip-top bag and frozen overnight to kill any ants, then mailed or dropped off for identification at any of the convenient locations listed on this web page

There are hundreds of other harmful ant species that are not present in Hawai‘i, but that could arrive by hitchhiking with imported goods. For example, Red Imported Fire Ants (RIFA) have been intercepted by ag inspectors at the port. RIFA are an aggressive, stinging ant native to South America that has invaded the southern United States. RIFA are responsible for billions of dollars in agricultural and infrastructure losses and medical costs. Detecting and responding to new harmful ant species to minimize widespread long-term costs is
a priority for the state.

Stop the Ant Month is an annual campaign by the Hawai`i Invasive Species Council (HISC), Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hawai`i Department of Agriculture, and the University of Hawai‘i through its projects including the Hawai`i Ant Lab (HAL), Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species, and the Invasive Species Committees on each island.

🐜🚫 Request your free ant collection kit and learn more about LFA and the Stop the Ant Campaign at www.StopTheAnt.org.