FY06 Funded Projects

  • The HISC disbursed $4M in FY06 to support projects relating to invasive species prevention, control, outreach, and research. A full description of FY06 activities can be found in the 2007 legislative report. Individual project summaries and final reports are below.


[spoiler open=”No” title=”HDOA Risk Assessments and Database” icon=”chevron”] Hawai’i Department of Agriculture, $755,000


  • Continue and expand port risk assessments throughout the State,
  • Contract research technicians to increase the efficiency of the inspection process during the port risk assessments, and
  • Expand the INVICTA database and other tracking tools for use statewide

DOA collected data in statewide risk assessments to determine the modes of entry of invasive species into the state and the relative risks of these different modes. These data will allow their Plant Quarantine Branch to more effectively utilize its limited resources by prioritizing inspection activities. In addition, the information will be essential for the state to assess where it needs to address gaps in its prevention efforts by focusing additional resources to fill these gaps. This will form the basis for developing the statewide Biosecurity program.

Kahului Airport Risk Assessments average $50,000 per run. Expenditures include air transportation, per diem, mileage, parking, hotel excess lodging, night differential, and overtime/travel time costs. Research technicians were hired to assist the inspectors but they cannot replace the inspectors in the inspection and disposition of agricultural commodities. Senior inspectors traveled to various ports in order for the risk assessments to be conducted consistently. Risk assessments will focus on inspection of areas not performed during the Kahului Airport Risk Assessments and FY05 O’ahu Risk Assessment.

Key Accomplishments:

  • 25% increase in identification rate for intercepted pests allowing faster, appropriate action on inspected commodities.
  • Development of an identification keys to aid inspectors.
  • Better understanding of invasive species risks associated with maritime commerce.
[/su_spoiler] [spoiler open=”No” title=”West Nile Virus Prevention” icon=”chevron”] Hawai’i Department of Health, $455,135

Goal: Improve surveillance and rapid response capabilities to address the threat of WNV importation.

DOH – Vector Control (VC) Branch maintains a system of gravid traps at major ports of entry statewide for detection of WNV. New Jersey light traps are also maintained statewide for detection of new, immigrant mosquito species. These New Jersey light traps also help monitor population levels and efficacy of control efforts.

Mosquitoes were collected using gravid traps, some purchased with HISC funds, and then sorted and pooled by VC staff statewide. Because the Neighbor Island VC programs are running their gravid traps seven (7) days a week, twenty-four (24) hours per day, many of the gravid trap parts, especially fan motors and batteries, have had to be replaced. In many cases, the HISC funds have paid for replacement parts and new traps. Matching funds for WNV projects has been sought from the Center for Disease Control and the Department of the Interior.

Key Accomplishments:

  • Both maintained and expanded the network of mosquito traps at ports to monitor for new mosquito species as well as emerging diseases.
  • Developed the equipment to initiate a ground-based response to a disease outbreak of WNV.
  • Developed the equipment and training on all islands to map trapping and control operations and enter and share data across the state for rapid analysis.
  • Initiated Live Bird Surveillance on Maui at Kahului Airport and Kaua’i’s Lihue Airport (Kaua’i contract completed and work to start early November 2006)
  • Developing contracts with Invasive Species Committees on O’ahu and Kaua’i to assist in collection of dead birds reported by public.
[/su_spoiler] [spoiler open=”No” title=”Feasibility of Certifying Guam Outbound Cargo for Brown Tree Snakes” icon=”chevron”] USDA APHIS WS, $186,000


  • Conduct inspections of cargo containers leaving Guam destined for Hawai’i
  • Determine the feasibility of a cargo certification program for Guam shipments.

For the second year of this project, USDA/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)/FWS will continue with the feasibility and logistic requirements for implementing a brown tree snake inspection certification program aimed at military and commercial cargo exports from Guam. The current project is focused primarily on the cargo processes themselves, not the destination of outbound cargo.

To accomplish this work, USDA-FWS committed four full-time canine handlers to providing inspection services and certification paperwork in support of surface cargo transportation, focusing upon cargo destined for Hawai’i. In addition, USDA-FWS S provided the administrative and biological oversight necessary to continue this project.

USDA-FWS S identified commercial cargo consolidators and military organizations that regularly ship containerized cargo destined for Hawai’i. Container contents were inspected prior to consolidation, and upon application of a customs seal, USDA-FWS provided a stamp on the container manifest documenting the inspection process. Manifest records (inspections) were provided to DOA representatives for verification upon cargo arrival in Hawai’i.

The four USDA-FWS inspectors worked to identify the point in the consolidation process where maximum inspection activity can be achieved, while still verifying contents of each container have been entirely inspected. Work focused on daytime activity, but future work could include transition to night-time inspections if cargo operations require such activity.

Key Accomplishments:

  • Time budgets for inspection were created identifying potential time saving changes in the inspection protocol to develop with shippers.
  • Recommendation that a cargo certification project is not feasible for all commercial goods leaving Guam at this time.
[/su_spoiler] [spoiler open=”No” title=”Hawai’i Ant Coordinator” icon=”chevron”] Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources, $120,400

To contract for a coordinator to reduce the risk invasive ant species such as the Red Imported Fire Ant establishing in Hawai’i and to prevent the interisland spread of the Little Fire Ant, and to establish a contract to continue the screening of plants grown and used commercially in Hawai’i via the locally developed Weed Risk Assessment


  • Create an Invasive Species Strategy Specialist to focus on the problems caused by invasive ants in Hawai’i and help DOA prioritize actions to reduce the incidence of additional species of invasive ants such as the Red Imported Fire Ant establishing in Hawai’i.
  • Continue the WRA (screenings) System to encourage nurseries, arboreta, and other horticultural businesses to adopt codes of conduct that voluntarily result in stopping the sale and planting of invasive plants.

The Invasive Species Strategy Specialist will facilitate more effective protection of Hawai’i’s environment from harmful alien species by gathering background information and facilitating coordination, organization, prioritization, and implementation of measures to prevent the introduction of alien pests into Hawai’i, with special emphasis on prevention of establishment and interisland spread of the little fire ant (Wasmannia auropunctata) and the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta). The Specialist accomplishes this by assisting federal and state agencies to implement more effective protection measures from non-native pest organisms, including identification of alien species pathways of entry into Hawai’i, developing management plans and educational material, technical writing, organizing meetings, and other support work as necessary to fulfill program objectives. The Specialist will supervise and train field personnel in collection of entomological field data, conduct data analyses, and prepares research papers and reports for publication in professional journals and dissemination to interested parties. This is a one-year position, subject to renewal based on performance and available funding.

This position was recruited via RCUH multiple times without a qualified candidate accepting the job. The tasks proposed will be accomplished via a short term contract with the position being continued into FY 07 by BIISC funding and supervised by DOA staff in Hilo. The contract for this project has been written and is currently being advertised.

DOA chose not to continue this project with FY 07 funds and has not committed to dedicating one of the new staff positions created by the Biosecurity initiative to this particular high priority group of pests. Because the need still exists to focus preventing and detection efforts on ants as a group, BIISC has agreed to continue the position for at least one year with DOA staff in Hilo providing supervision and project oversight.

The WRA System is a tool that uses published scientific information to gauge the potential of a plant to be invasive if planted in Hawai’i. The System is designed to identify plants that are invasive in natural areas such as forests, cultivated lands including forestry and agricultural areas, and invasive plants in other managed areas, e.g. parks and lawns. The WRA System provides biological information only. Funding would be to continue screening plants to allow the development of the WRA System as a systematic tool that will be used to prevent the importation of potentially invasive plants and provide information about plants present in Hawai’i that could become weeds over time. A WRA technician has been hired to screen new plant introductions.

The WRA System has three important goals:

  1. Screen new plant introductions to identify species that pose a high risk of causing ecological or economic harm if they are imported.
  2. Identify high-risk species among plants that have already been imported, allowing for informed planting decisions.
  3. Assist with prioritizing species for active control programs among more than one thousand plant species that have become naturalized in Hawai’i.

The WRA System consists of 49 questions about a plant’s biological characteristics and whether it has become invasive in other locations with similar conditions to Hawai’i. The technician will use published information from credible scientific sources to answer these questions, which gives the plant a total numerical score. At this time there is a backlog of plants for which screening has been requested by nursery or landscape industry representatives.

Key accomplishments since the WRA technician hired in April, 2006:

  • The Kaua’i Landscape Industry Council and the O’ahu Nursery Growers Association industry groups have both adopted voluntary codes of conduct and lists of priority invasive plants that they will no longer grow, sell or recommend in planting projects.
  • More than 80 plant species have been screened so far 19 of which are species being considered for import into Hawai’i.
  • Revised criteria for screening plants and documented search protocol for screening species making this process easy to adopt by regulatory agencies.
  • Presentations on the HPWRA:
    • A series of one-day workshops titled ‘Jumping the fence line: Escaped Agricultural Plants in Hawaii’ was organized by UH-CTAHR with the goal of creating an awareness of the widespread impacts of escaped agricultural plants. The HPWRA screening process was presented during this workshop as a tool that agriculturalists and rangeland managers could use for minimizing impact of invasive plants.
    • Three presentations to the docents at the Lyon Arboretum.
    • An update on the status of HPWRA to the council members of the Kaulunani Community and Urban Forestry program.

At present there are about a 100 species on the ‘to be screened’ list. The interest in this process as a science-based decision making tool for preventing the spread of invasive plants has made this one of the most successful HISC projects.



[spoiler open=”No” title=”Aquatic Invasive Species Response Team” icon=”chevron”] DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources, $300,000

To support the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Aquatic Resources’ Aquatic Invasive Species Response Team.

Key Accomplishments:
  • Partnered with UH and TNC in developing and operating the “supersucker” undersea algae vacuum.
  • Eliminated majority of population of mushroom anemone (Actinodiscus nummiformis).
  • Started local eradication of snowflake coral (Carijoa riisei) from the Island of Kaua’i.
  • Mapped distribution of gorilla ogo (Gracilaria salicornia) in Maunalua Bay, O’ahu and developed a management plan.

DLNR – DAR developed an innovative Aquatic Invasive Species Management project to include an experimental aquatic invasive species response team. This project focused on alien and invasive species issues in Hawaii’s freshwater and marine environments. The project funded five field staff to respond to alien species issues across the State. Key species and projects for the first year operations for this team included: 1) Eradication of snowflake coral at Port Allen, Kaua’i; 2) Developing control methods for alien algae using the “supersucker,” a unique vacuum developed to collect invasive algae off the reefs; 3) Survey for invasive marine algae in South O’ahu; and 4) Control of incipient species including a recently introduced Discosoma sp. or disk anemone. The State of Hawaii Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Management Plan and the Aquatic Invasive Species Advisory Group will guide future activities and objectives of this project.

[/su_spoiler] [spoiler open=”No” title=”Kaua’i Detection and Control of Invasive Species” icon=”chevron”] Kaua’i Invasive Species Committee, $277,200

To support the detection and control of incipient invasive species in Kaua’i County.

Key Accomplishments:

  • All known ivy gourd (Coccinia grandis) and giant reed (Arundo donax) populations have been treated and are being monitored and maintained for re-growth.
  • KISC assisted DOA staff in controlling the two known fireweed infestations. One population has been controlled and is in the monitoring stage. The other is close to being controlled: only 12 plants were found in 2005.
  • Community awareness campaign on miconia resulted in new reported sightings. Follow-up surveys by KISC proved the sightings to be negative.

Besides focusing efforts on aerial surveys of miconia and intensifying work on coqui frogs, KISC participated in several partnership projects that included: mechanical clearing of long thorn kiawe at Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) as well as clearing a shearwater nesting site of these invasive trees, conducting weed control work with Waipa Foundation, assisting DOA with arundo and fireweed control, and helping to plan helicopter operations to control Australian Tree Fern with the Nature Conservancy (TNC). Ongoing control work on KISC’s other target species include work on ivy gourd, fountain grass, cattails, mongoose, and pampas grass. Beginning development of an early detection program started with a field guide outlining potential threats arriving from other islands. Work continues on a island-wide roadside survey to be conducted spring of 2007.

[/su_spoiler] [spoiler open=”No” title=”O’ahu Detection and Control of Invasive Species” icon=”chevron”] O’ahu Invasive Species Committee, $277,200

To support the detection and control of incipient invasive species on O’ahu.

Key Accomplishments:
  • Treated entire infestation area of the only coqui population in a wild land area on O’ahu with a dramatic reduction in population.
  • Controlled all known populations of Himalayan blackberry (Rubus discolor) and smoke bush (Buddleia madagascariensis) island-wide and controlled one plant species in defined geographic area.
  • Applied scientifically established search areas and control frequencies for all target species
  • Held monthly volunteer field trips to control OISC target species.

OISC hired a temporary crew of five to control coqui frogs during key summer months. HISC funding was also used for a complementary public service announcement campaign to alert residents to the presence of coqui frogs and encourage new reports. Work on other species that are declared state noxious weeds but still incipient on O’ahu was expanded for Himalayan blackberry, bush beardgrass, smoke bush, fountain grass, fire tree, pampas grass and fireweed.

[/su_spoiler] [spoiler open=”No” title=”Maui County Detection and Control of Invasive Species” icon=”chevron”] Molokai and Maui Invasive Species Committees, $302,400

To support the detection and control of incipient invasive species in Maui County.

Key Accomplishments:

  • Completely controlled all known populations for twelve plant species island-wide and controlled four plant species in defined geographic areas
  • Conducted a rapid assessment of the erythrina gall wasp invasion
  • Eradicated one coqui frog population and made substantial progress at most other sites
  • Reached record numbers of the public through outreach events, and
  • Involved local students in conducting surveys for fire ants

MISC identified three key objectives to address with HISC funding; increase the number of trained observers surveying Maui County for known or potentially invasive plant species, expand surveys for existing and potential species to target for eradication (including miconia, pampas grass, fountain grass, ivy gourd, giant reed, rubber vine, and veiled chameleon), and determine the coqui frog distribution on Maui and control or eradicate local populations where possible. The additional funds were matched by the County of Maui, the Maui Board of Water Supply and federal grants.

[/su_spoiler] [spoiler open=”No” title=”Big Island Detection and Control of Invasive Species” icon=”chevron”] Big Island Invasive Species Committee, $403,200

To support the detection and control of incipient invasive species in Hawaii County.

Key Accomplishments:

  • Completed a six-month survey project to assess the efficacy of previous miconia control efforts
  • Worked with partner agencies to control coqui infestations in priority areas
  • Worked with partner agencies to conduct port monitoring for red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) and a rapid assessment of the erythrina gall wasp invasion

BIISC provides support and coordination for efforts to control the largest infestations of both coqui frogs and miconia in the State. The principal goals for the additional HISC funds were to; develop and expand the capacity of BIISC staff and other individuals on the Island of Hawaii to detect new, potentially invasive species and new locations of known priority target species; continue on-going efforts to contain the infestations of priority invasive species such as miconia, plume poppy and coqui frogs; and continue outreach and education efforts to target groups and build partnerships with neighborhood groups and others to prevent and control invasive species on Hawaii.



[spoiler open=”No” title=”Statewide Outreach Program” icon=”chevron”] Hawaii Invasive Species Council

Outreach staff and administrative support: $135,465

Outreach projects: $113,000

Final Report



HISC research and technology evaluation committees completed a review of dozens of proposals. Reviewers included staff and experts from DOA, DEBDT, DOH, DLNR, HISC, USDA, UH, Bishop Museum, USGS etc. Eighteen projects were selected for funding in 2006.

[spoiler open=”No” title=”Magnitude and duration of West Nile Viremia in Budgerigars (parakeets)” icon=”chevron”]

Bowen/Colorado State University, $6,864

mosq1Summary: West Nile virus is transmitted by mosquitoes and can be a serious, even fatal, illness. It can affect people, horses, certain types of birds, and other animals. In 1999, West Nile virus first appeared in the United States in New York City. Since that time, it has spread rapidly throughout the country, and into parts of Canada, Mexico, Central America, and South America. To date, January 2008, there has been no West Nile virus detected in Hawai’i. This study aims to determine the risk that budgerigars may be or may not be effective carriers of West Nile virus. If they are discovered to be carriers of the virus quarantine measures will need to be implemented.

[/su_spoiler] [spoiler open=”No” title=”Modification of a multi-pest exclusion fence to be effective against all feral mammals in Hawai’i” icon=”chevron”]

Burgett/USFWS, $6,364

Summary: The aim was to adapt and test the excluder fence commonly used in New Zealand to exclude rats, cats, mice, goats and other small mammals from valued natural areas where predators impact native birds. The problem was that Hawai’i’s lava substrate is difficult to work on and achieve a good seal for the smallest rodents. Tests show that it is possible to achieve an effective seal. Plans are now underway to adopt the technology at Ka’ena point on Oahu to protect ground nesting birds such as albatross, noddies, petrels, frigate birds, and boobies.

[/su_spoiler] [spoiler open=”No” title=”Taxonomic expertise for aquatic invasive species research in Honolulu Harbor” icon=”chevron”]

Eldredge/Bishop Museum, $15,000

Summary: Collections of introduced and invasive marine invertebrates in Honolulu Harbors were made and abundance assessed in order to improve our knowledge of species new to Hawai’i that arrive as hitchhikers on ships that visit us from all over the world. The collection should allow future identifications to be made rapidly. Marine invertebrate taxonomic expertise in the state is limited to a few experts with knowledge of only a fraction of the species that can arrive. This effort improves that capacity.

Final Report

[/su_spoiler] [spoiler open=”No” title=”Are invasive species of dinoflagellates that cause harmful algal blooms entering Hawai’i in the ballast water of commercial ships?” icon=”chevron”]

Gates/University of Hawai’i $35,500

Summary: This study proved beyond a doubt that movement of toxic dinoflagellates is occurring in ship ballast water- even to remote locations such Hawai’i’s northwestern islands. These have been implicated in harmful algal blooms and coral bleaching, but the story is complex as the dinoflagellates can also act as alternative symbionts in corals and jellyfish. More research is needed to understand the implications.

Final Progress Report 

[/su_spoiler] [spoiler open=”No” title=”Building the technical capacity of the Hawai’i Island Invasive Species Committees: Database enhancements and standard reporting” icon=”chevron”]

Gibson/PBIN, $29,288

Summary: This project involved the enhancement of existing database systems of the O’ahu, Kaua’i, Big Island and Moloka’i Invasive Species Committees (ISCs) to allow for the tracking of vertebrate and invertebrate survey and control work; and the facilitation and tracking of invasive species early detection efforts.

Final Report

[/su_spoiler] [spoiler open=”No” title=”Management of the invasive Erythrina gall wasp, Quadrasticus erythrinae Kim (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae) on native and landscape Erythrina spp.” icon=”chevron”]

Hara/HDOA, $22,000

Summary: The erythrina gall wasp, Quadrastichus erythrinae, (EGW) is one of the most devastating invasive species introduced into the State of Hawai’i. EGW host range includes Erythrina sandwicensis, a native and large component of dry land forest areas, as well as Erythrina variegata, abundant in landscapes. Our work focused on immediate control of this pest with safe and effective insecticides. Insecticides and application methods were selected based on criteria of efficacy, treatment longevity and non target impacts.

Final Report


[spoiler open=”No” title=”O’ahu Early Detection” icon=”chevron”]

Imada/Bishop Museum, $80,000

Summary: Implementing Early Detection in Hawai’i is a positive vigilant step toward ensuring that O’ahu avoids future blind sidings by incipient invasive plant species. Partners Bishop Museum (BISH) and the O’ahu Invasive Species Committee (OISC) hired two research and field staffers, coined the O’ahu Early Detection (OED) team, who were trained by BISH staff in plant identification skills and use of herbarium resources, and provided technical and field assistance by OISC staff. OED staff initially conducted a baseline inventory of cultivated plants grown on O’ahu, covering a variety of importation sources such as botanical gardens, nurseries, community gardens, and agricultural research centers. The preventative protocol they followed is designed to spotlight any species fitting a particular profile (as suggested by Weed Risk Assessment, behavior elsewhere in the world, life history strategies of confamilial species, etc.) and mark them as high-risk species meriting preventative control efforts. As of mid-June 2007, OED had embarked on the roadside survey phase of their program, already surveying 212 miles of road in 14 neighborhoods. They also surveyed about 30 plant establishments, including over 15 commercial and retail nurseries and 4 botanical gardens. Highlights of their surveys include a target list of 153 high-risk species, and 12 new naturalized weed records for the state and 13 others for O’ahu. About 300 plants have been identified for U.S. Army Natural Resources, OISC, Maui Land & Pine, and U.S. Geological Survey. New findings were published in Bishop Museum’s Records of the Hawai’i Biological Survey in October 2007.

Final Report


[spoiler open=”No” title=”Detection, control & phenology of the nettle caterpillar, Darna pallivitta (Moore): Applications of a pheromone lure” icon=”chevron”]

Jang/USDA, $20,000

Summary: Builds on work started under an FY05 HISC grant.


[spoiler open=”No” title=”Evaluation of pathogens in Costa Rica for biocontrol of Miconia calvescens” icon=”chevron”]

Johnson/USDA, $7,700

Summary: Miconia calvescens is widely recognized as the most threatening invasive plant in Hawai’i today. Although we cannot predict with certainty that pathotypes suitable for infecting Hawaiian miconia will be found in Costa Rica , the similarity of biotypes of Miconia calvescens from Costa Rica and Hawai’i suggests that chances are greatly improved in comparison with pathotypes from Brazil . This project will at least rigorously test the suitability of Costa Rican pathotypes of Coccodiella and Ditylenchus for biocontrol of miconia. This is a work in progress.

Final Report


[spoiler open=”No” title=”Preliminary exploration for arthropod natural enemies of Rubus ellipticus in China” icon=”chevron”]

Johnson/USDA, $12,000

Summary: Rubus ellipticus , yellow Himalayan raspberry, arrived in Hawai’i around 1961 and began to naturalize in the vicinity of Volcano. A single plant can grow into a large, 4m tall impenetrable thicket, with a main stem exceeding 10 cm in diameter. Its recurved prickles and sturdy stems make it extremely unpleasant for livestock and humans alike. It has been spread by birds and humans to the outskirts of Hilo and as far as Laupahoehoe. Transport to Maui has been documented on hapu’u trunks and remains a great concern for land managers there. In addition to being a weed of pastures and disturbed areas, it demonstrates an alarming ability to invade deeply into pristine wet forests such as the Ola’a Tract of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park . Plants can establish in dense shade and grow to overtop supporting hapu’u. In this study they expect to collect and obtain preliminary biological data for one or two species of potential agents building on Chinese-American collaborations. Most importantly, this initial exploration will identify sites and collaborators for future detailed studies of selected potential biocontrol agents. Detailed ecological studies in the native range of R. ellipticus will be critical to identify those agents likely to have significant impact on the weed in Hawai’i and that are sufficiently specific to pose low risk to our native Rubus species.

Final Report


[spoiler open=”No” title=”Developing new techniques for invasive ant control in Hawai’i” icon=”chevron”]

Krushelnycky/USGS, $80,000

Summary: Invasive ants are among the most damaging of Hawai’i ‘s invasive species. There are no native ants in Hawai’i, yet in the past several hundred years over 40 ant species have been introduced to the state (PDF). Some of these species have caused substantial impacts to native Hawaiian biodiversity (PDF), and are pests of agriculture and urban areas. In addition, recent and potential introductions, such as the little fire ant and red imported fire ant, respectively, have the ability to exert strong impacts on tourism and other sectors of the economy.

The ant control experiment at Haleakala National Park using Gourmet Liquid Ant Bait was initiated in May, 2007. Unfortunately, the performance of this bait has so far fell below expectations, with little control in the treatment plots. The problem appears to be one of low bait attractiveness. This was unanticipated, since Argentine ants at Haleakala are highly attracted to sugar water formulations, and this commercial bait (Gourmet) has been used and found to be highly attractive to Argentine ants in California . Apparently, something in the formulation of the bait is reducing attractiveness to Haleakala Argentine ants. This experiment has illuminated the considerable site to site variability in behavior of invasive ants, and suggests that local experimentation may often be an important part of ant control programs. In an effort to increase attractiveness of the Gourmet bait, additional bait preference tests, with a variety of formulations, were conducted after the initial bait application in the experimental plots.

Final Report: Gourmet Bait

Final Report: Sumitomo Bait

[/su_spoiler] [spoiler open=”No” title=”Development of a pheromonal attractant for detecting small, incipient populations of brown tree snakes in Hawai’i” icon=”chevron”]

Mathies/USDA, $60,835

Summary: Hawai’i’s ability to prevent the introduction of the brown tree snake relies mainly on interdiction measures conducted on Guam. The second line of defense is in Hawai’i’s ports of entry, where the main tools are detector dogs and visual searches. It is inevitable that some snakes will eventually pass beyond the port environs and breeding populations may become established. Hawai”i presently has few practical tools for detecting brown tree snakes once they have dispersed beyond cargo areas. The main tool, a trap containing a live mouse bait, may not be effective in Hawai’i because, unlike Guam, Hawai’i is a relatively food-rich environment, and snakes may have little incentive to enter a trap. Trapping and other methods, such as visual searches and detector dogs are comparatively costly to implement and maintain in a ready state.

female_brown_tree_snakeScientists at the USDA/National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) are investigating the potential use of the sex pheromone of the female brown tree snake as an attractant and detection tool. The end goal of this work is to synthesize the pheromone as a ready-to-use tool when the need arises. In an initial study, scientists assessed responses of adult males to skin secretions of adult females in an outdoor semi-natural enclosure on Guam. It is thought that female snakes produce sex pheromones only when ovarian follicles are vitellogenic. Males were therefore given a simultaneous choice of investigating poles treated with either the scent of a vitellogenic female, a non-vitellogenic female, or a no-scent control pole (3 replicates per treatment, per night, per female). Males spent more time, and exhibited a greater number of investigative “nose-probes”, on poles scented by vitellogenic females than poles scented by non-vitellogenic females or no-scent controls. Further studies are in progress. In May 2007, 140 brown tree snakes were brought from Guam to the NWRC’s Invasive Species Research Building where scientists are investigating whether the pheromone might also be airborne, the intensity and accuracy at which males follow pheromone trails, and potential for laboratory synthesis of the pheromone.

Final Report


[spoiler open=”No” title=”Survey for potential biological control agents for Miconia calvescens in southern Mexico” icon=”chevron”]

McClay/McClay Ecoscience, $14,625

Summary: Surveys in the state of Chiapas, Mexico were designed to locate populations of miconia calvescens and to identify insect and other natural enemy species present on it that might have potential as biological control agents. M. calvescens was found to be present at very low population densities in Chiapas. Seven locations were found in two separate areas, one in the municipalities of La Independencia and Las Margaritas, east of the Lagunas de Montebello National Park, and the other in the municipality of Ocosingo, near the Metzabok Natural Area. All locations of M. calvescens were in shaded secondary roadside vegetation between about 500 m and 1,100 m elevation. All plants were in the vegetative stage except for one that had flower buds. A number of insect species were collected, including larvae of Riodinidae, Geometridae, and Megalopygidae (Lepidoptera). Herbarium specimens and DNA samples of M. calvescens were collected at all sites. All plant and insect material collected is currently at ECOSUR awaiting shipment to cooperators.

Final Report


[spoiler open=”No” title=”A coqui free certification program on the island of Maui: Using market incentives to prevent inadvertent vectoring” icon=”chevron”]

Penniman/PCSU, $15,000

Summary: This project has identified 56 businesses that provide plants or cut flowers on Maui. Standards for participation in the certification program have been developed and marketing materials are being developed. The intent of the project is to develop a voluntary “coqui-free” certification program; evaluate whether participation in the program varies by the size of the business and assess the impact of certification and associated marketing on the consumer behavior.

Final Progress Report


[spoiler open=”No” title=”Efficacy and palatability of commercially available rodenticides” icon=”chevron”]


Summary: Invasive rodents have decimated native flora and fauna, reduced agriculture production, and threatened human health in Hawai’i . Although many rodenticides are commercially available nationally, few are available for use in Hawai’i or have been tested with wild rodents commonly found in the Pacific. This comprehensive study will test the efficacy and palatability of commercially available rodenticides to identify the most effective rodenticides for use in Hawai’i . This research can then be used to support the registration of additional rodenticides for use in conservation areas, agricultural crops, and to protect human health.

Final Report Part 1: Text

Final Report Part 2: Figures


[spoiler open=”No” title=”Exploration in tropical Africa for natural enemies to suppress infestations of the Erythrina gall wasp in Hawai’i” icon=”chevron”]

Ramadan/HDOA, $23,899

Summary: The tiny gnat sized Erythrina gall wasp was first discovered in Hawai’i in Honolulu in April 2005. Within six months, it had spread statewide and devastated nearly all of the most susceptible species of Erythrina trees- including the endemic Wiliwili tree and important ornamental shade trees. The alarming rate at which it spread had researchers both in the government and private sectors racing for ways to combat the invader with only limited success using imidacloprid formulations. The Erythrina Gall Wasp Biocontrol Project was initiated in August 2005 with the planning of an exploration by the branch’s Exploratory Entomologist in East Africa in December 2005. Agents are being assessed for release.


[spoiler open=”No” title=”Development of cost-effective baits/attractant-lures for tree snakes” icon=”chevron”]

Savarie/USDA APHIS NWRC, $30,725

Summary: This study seeks to develop a bait attractant matrix for detection and control of incipient and reported sightings of brown tree snakes (BTS) on Hawai’i . Concurrently, if a successful bait matrix is developed it will also be used to increase BTS control and eradication efforts on Guam resulting in a decreased potential for dispersal of BTS to Hawaii and other Pacific islands. The primary control methods for incipient populations are live trapping, spotlight searches, and detector dogs. Having live mice readily available for traps is problematic, and an off-the-shelf bait attractant would be highly desirable. Dead neonatal mice (DNM), which serve as the bait matrix and attractant but there is a need improvements to reduce costs and increase efficiency.

Final Report [/su_spoiler]

[spoiler open=”No” title=”Exploration, genetic characterization, and host range testing of parasitoids of the Erythrina gall wasp” icon=”chevron”]

Wright/UH, $45,000

Summary: The tiny gnat sized Erythrina gall wasp was first discovered in Hawai’i in Honolulu in April 2005. Within months, it had spread statewide and devastated nearly all of the most susceptible species of Erythrina trees- causing leaves to shrivel and deform with galls and eventually killing leaves or whole trees. Affected trees include the endemic Wiliwili tree and another type of Erythrina that were important ornamental shade trees in most urban settings. Most of the ornamental trees have since been cut down, Wiliwili are hanging on by a thread. The alarming rate at which it spread had researchers both in the government and private sectors racing for ways to combat the invader with only limited success using imidacloprid formulations. Following collaborative work with HDOA in East and West Africa a number of agents are being assessed to determine their specificity to this pest wasp species.