Nature & Environment
Extensive fire ant infestation in Hawaii is now largest on record
By T.K. Randall
November 14, 2022 · 9 comments
Fire ants are an invasive species in Hawaii. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 William Cho
Authorities in the state have moved to warn residents of the dangers posed by these tiny communal insects.
Being stung by a fire ant is certainly no joke - even a single sting can leave a nasty, swollen welt that can get infected and can also, on rare occasions, cause a fatal anaphylactic shock.
It's no surprise, therefore, that authorities in Kauai, Hawaii have become increasingly concerned about an ever-growing infestation of these six-legged pests which were first detected on the island in 1999.
Things are now so bad that the current levels of infestation have been described as the worst on record, prompting officials to put out warnings to both local residents and tourists alike.
"They're changing the way of life for our residents here in Hawaii," said ant expert Heather Forester.
"You used to be able to go out hiking and go to the beach."
"They can rain down on people and sting them."
In some of the worst impacted areas, the infestation is so extreme that the ants have been known to enter people's homes and sting them while they are sleeping.
"We have a lot of reports of them stinging people while they sleep in their beds," said Forester.
The Kauai Invasive Species Committee has launched a media campaign to raise awareness, but the only thing that will really make a difference is containment.
Fortunately, the ants are mostly confined to a specific area of one island, so with any luck officials will be able to prevent them from spreading any further in the coming months.
"Our team is really good at what they do," said the committee's outreach specialist, Haylin Chock.
"I'm confident that we can keep it contained."
Source: Science Alert
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