Hawaii lawmakers weigh killing invasive insects


HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii lawmakers want to swat down a pair of invasive pests: the coffee berry borer and the little fire ant.

Despite their quaint names, the insects pose considerable threats to Hawaii’s fragile environment. House lawmakers are proposing to spend $3 million next year to control coffee berry borers, up from $250,000 last year. Lawmakers also want to put more than $306,000 into a pilot project to study the threat and possible eradication of little fire ants.

The borers are a familiar pest to coffee farmers. The tiny African beetles were first noticed in Hawaii’s agriculturally rich Kona region only in 2010.

The little fire ant’s painful sting can cause blindness in livestock and pets. The ants also are known to kill young birds and sea turtle hatchlings.

The House is also considering another bill that would provide $5 million toward efforts to control invasive plants and animals through the interdepartmental Hawaii Invasive Species Council. The bill calls invasive species “the single greatest threat to Hawaii’s economy and natural environment ...”

 

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