Why is Surveying Important?
It’s important to survey your property when bringing in new plants/materials, if you suspect LFA on your property, or if neighboring properties have an LFA infestation. LFA are tiny and can be living on your property unnoticed. Their invasion only becomes apparent when they’re numbers increase so much that you start getting bitten while working in the yard or even while in your own home! The sooner you can catch LFA trying to move in the easier they are to treat.
Surveying is extremely simple.
What you need:
- Chopstick, coffee stir, etc
- Creamy peanut butter. They seem to prefer the cheaper brands like Jif and Skippy over natural peanut butter. (If your allergic to nuts, pieces of hot dog work as well)
- Small ziploc bags
- Spray Paint (optional- Paint ends of chopsticks to make finding them easier)
Smear a thin layer of peanut butter on the edge of the chopstick and place them in shady areas on the border of your property and in hot spot areas. When surveying the border place one chopstick about every 10 feet. Hot spots are things like trees, compost piles, rocks/rock walls, weed mat/plastic, debris, and pots. LFA like to nest in shady moist areas and can make a nest in practically anything.
The best times to survey (and bait) are in the morning or in the afternoon when its not too hot. Leave the peanut butter sticks out for 30 minutes to 1 hour. When collecting place any sticks with ants in a ziploc bag and place them in the freezer for 24 hours to kill them.
If this is the first time surveying and you want to confirm if the ants you collected are LFA being your dead samples to:
- The Hawaii Ant Lab at the Department of Agriculture, 16 E Lanikaula St, Hilo HI 96720 (also accepts samples by mail. Just make sure to also include contact info)
- Big Island Invasive Species Committee 23 E Kawili St, Hilo HI 96720 Next to the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife.
- Robert Curtiss – Entomologist for the Department of Agriculture in Kona. Drop off samples and contact info at UH-CTAHR in Kainaliu, 79-7381 Mamalahoa Hwy, Kealakekua HI 96750.
When bringing in samples make sure to have multiple ants not just one. Also avoid smashing the ants, damaging the sample can make getting an accurate ID difficult.