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Vouchers available for little fire ant pesticide

Hawaii County is hoping more access to pesticide treatments will help efforts to combat the little fire ant population.

The county Department of Research and Development on Monday began distributing voucher coupons for treatments. The coupons allow people to receive three vouchers good for $15 each.

There is a limited supply, as the coupons were funded via a $96,584 grant from the Hawaii Invasive Species Council — a program of the state departments of Land and Natural Resources, Agriculture, Health, Transportation, Business, Economic Development and Tourism, and the University of Hawaii.

Research and Development specialist Glenn Sako said Wednesday that 1,800 vouchers were printed.

“If it does all go out, then that’s it,” he said. The vouchers expire March 31, 2017.

In order to receive a set of vouchers, people first must go through a training session to learn how to properly apply the pesticide. Training sessions in Hilo and Kona are conducted by the Hawaii Ant Lab. Pre-registration is required.

Big Island Invasive Species Committee training sessions will be conducted elsewhere on the island.

“We’re going to do classes in other areas, in case people can’t get to Hilo or Kona,” said BIISC communications director Franny Kinslow Brewer. “We’re working to schedule a bunch of neighborhood meetings right now.”

Qualifying ant baits that can be purchased using the vouchers are Amdro Fire Ant Bait, Siesta, Tango and MaxForce Complete. A hand-held bait spreader also can be purchased.

Mailings went out this week to property owners who live adjacent to county-owned parks, where officials have been intensifying their own little fire ant treatments.

During a presentation earlier this month, Sako noted the county’s concern that despite its own little fire ant treatments on park properties, infestations continued because neighboring properties were not being treated.

The same principle prompted BIISC to begin its community training programs earlier this year. The group recently completed a 70-person community training event in Hawaiian Paradise Park, with another scheduled for later this month in Ainaola Park.

Working as a neighborhood to treat little fire ants is “huge,” Kinslow Brewer said. “We think people will get significant results, and it’s a significant savings if people come together and buy the bulk (treatments).”

“The key is you have to stay in this four- to six-week window for a certain number of months, and if you don’t do that then the ants will rebound,” she said, adding that having more people involved in the effort also increased accountability.

During the past two legislative sessions, state Rep. Richard Onishi, D-Hilo, introduced measures to create a coupon program and track ant infestations via GIS mapping, but they did not make it past conferencing.

Register for county training classes at www.hawaiicounty.gov/rd-agriculture.

For more information, contact Sako at glenn.sako@hawaiicounty.gov or 961-8811.

Email Ivy Ashe at iashe@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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