Guam – The University of Guam is reporting that as of the first week in December, Guam’s newest invasive species, the little fire ant, has been found in Yigo, Nimitz Hill, Piti, Santa Rita, Umatac, and Merizo.
“Thanks to the rapid response of the public in bringing in ant samples to my lab as well as to the Government of Guam territorial entomologist, Russ Campbell, we have been able to get a good idea as to where little fire ant populations are located. The next step is to get a plan in place to contain it,” says University of Guam entomologist Ross Miller.
It is evident from the number of places the ant has been found that it is being transported around the island by people. “It is necessary for the control of this ant that people stop moving plants, soil, and plant material including banana, heliconia, coconut husks and fronds and to be especially mindful if they are bitten by tiny ants when working in their yards or ranches,” warns Dr. Miller. He would like people to continue to bring samples to his lab or to call 475-PEST (475-7378) if they discover ant activity they believe may be the little fire ant. Banana growers should be vigilant, as the little fire ant loves to make its home in the leaves next to the trunk. Peel the leaf back to see if there are any fire ant colonies present.
[ Little fire ant biting human arm -photo courtesy of wikipedia]
People can bring ant samples to UOG College of Natural and Applied Sciences dean’s office during weekday business hours. It is important that the ants are placed in a container with a tight fitting lid, preferably in alcohol, and labeled with the person’s name, phone number, date, and location where it was collected.
At this time there is no evidence of little fire ants in the CNMI. Everyone is asked to do their part to see that this ant is not spread to other Micronesian islands. Follow all Customs and Quarantine rules and regulations. Do not bring in or take out plants or soil as they may contain unwanted hitchhikers like the three invasive species that are currently wreaking havoc on Guam: the little fire ant, coconut rhinoceros beetle, and Asian cycad scale. “Any invasive species we find on Guam poses a threat to our neighboring islands due to our frequent air and sea connections,” says Dr. Miller, “If people follow the rules and get a permit and certificate to bring in plants this will ensure that no unwanted pests will be accidentally introduced and could save the government millions of dollars trying to eradicate an invasive species.”