Little Fire Ant Continues to Spread Across The IslandWritten by Clynt Ridgell
Guam - The Department of Agriculture is closing 3 green waste sites to treat them for the little fire ant. Meanwhile UOG Entomologist Dr. Ross Miller tells PNC the little fire ant continues to spread across the island.
It's an invasive species called the little fire ant. It's powerful stings have wreaked havoc in Hawaii and now it's spreading across the island of Guam. "The Little Fire Ant has spread pretty much throughout the island all the way from Yigo down to Merizo. It continues to expand it's range primarily because people are moving it around without knowing it,” said UOG Entomologist Dr. Ross Miller. The bug specialist says that people spread the Little Fire Ant or LFA by moving soil plants or green waste from a contaminated area into an uncontaminated area.
"We have located it at about 20 different sites around the island we continually get new reports and find new sites. We're very concerned about how green waste is being managed after typhoon dolphin," said Dr. Miller.
After typhoon Dolphin temporary sites were opened up to collect green waste and and officials are worried that these sites may have Little Fire Ants. In fact tomorrow(Weds.) the green waste collection sites in Wusstig road Yigo, Oka Tamuning and Ija Inarajan will close down so the Department of Agriculture can treat them with pesticides to get rid of the Little Fire Ant.
Meanwhile Dr. Miller says the most recent infestations have been found at the overlooks along the Agat Umatac road, a residential area in Malesso and at Asan point. "One of the newer sites is the national park down by Asan beach. The water shed above the park is infested and it looks like the ants have come down the stream gone under the culvert in the water probably and then spread along the beach and gone up along the ridge in Asan point,” said Dr. Miller.
The Little Fire Ants at Asan have even threatened a native tree snail called Akaleha in Chamoru. This native snail is getting more and more rare and is a candidate for the endangered species list. “There's some native snails there that have recently been moved out of an area where the Little Fire Ant is infesting and the reason is that both the ant would probably kill the snails and also the park service is going to be treating the Little Fire Ant with some insecticides that might harm the snails,” said Dr. Miller. The snails have been relocated until they can rid the area of the LFA. The idea is to return the snails once the treatment is done and once the Little Fire Ants are gone.
Although the invasive ant is definitely spreading, Dr. Miller says the good news is they have found pesticides that work. "Some of the really heavily infested sites that I think we've reported on in fact you've reported on I think in the past if you go there now you can't find the ant. The procedure is quite simple. We use an insecticide a granular bait that's very safe. You spread it out. The ants take that bait back to the colony. The queen eats it and and she dies and the colony eventually dies out. We have another pesticide that we mix with a kind of a gel matrix. We spray it up in the trees. It's an insect growth regulator that messes up the metabolism of the insect so it's harmless for humans and mammals and again it's the same thing the ants take that back to the queen she eats it and then she dies,” explained the UOG Entomologist.
Dr. Miller says it takes about a year to treat an area. Eradicating an LFA infestation in a particular area requires repeated treatments.