Fight Invasive Fire Ants in Hawaii

Target: Keith Kawaoka, Hawaiian Deputy Director for Environmental Health

Goal: Eradicate invasive ants, which are a major threat to Hawaii’s delicate ecosystems.

Little fire ants first appeared in Hawaii in 1999. Although these ants are very small – only about a millimeter in length – they have since caused massive damage to ecosystems, human health, and agriculture.

Invasive ant species have particularly devastating effects on native bird species. There are 33 species of endangered birds in Hawaii, and all are put at even more risk by the explosion of invasive ant populations. Since these birds did not co-evolve with ants, they have no natural defenses against them. Invasive ants attack birds while they are nesting, sometimes causing adults to abandon their nests. When chicks hatch, they are also attacked, leading to reduced fledgling survival. Losses of entire breeding colonies due to ants have been documented.

Little fire ants are also dangerous to humans and their pets. Little fire ant stings are extremely painful, and symptoms may last for up to two weeks. Agricultural workers are at the most risk of being stung. These ants may also attack pets, and some veterinarians believe that the stings may cause blindness in animals.

Researchers at the Hawaiian Ant Lab (HAL) at the University of Hawaii are investigating the impacts of little fire ants and the best ways to control them. But groups like the HAL and others need money to fund their efforts to get rid of these invasive species. Sign this petition to urge Hawaii’s Department of Environmental Health to increase funding for ant research and ant eradication programs.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Kawaoka,

Since the arrival of humans on Hawaii, 95 species of birds have gone extinct, according to the American Bird Conservancy. Little fire ants are especially dangerous for nesting birds, and their presence has forced birds to abandon many of their usual breeding sites.

Without any natural predators on the islands, ants are also doing significant damage to Hawaii’s crops. Little fire ants also cause unnecessary suffering among agricultural workers, and ant stings may even prevent them from working. If little fire ants are not dealt with soon, it is estimated that they will do almost $200 million worth of damage.

I ask that you increase funding to eradicate little fire ants in Hawaii before irreparable damage is done to ecosystems and agriculture.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Dean Croshere

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One Comment

  1. Gen Lovyet Agustsson says:

    we do not have to kill ants.

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