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Opinion pieces, analyses and letters are intended to provide a diverse range of views from our community. They are not intended to represent the views of Big Island Now.

OPINION: Treat Little Fire Ants Like the Threat They Are

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OPINION: Treat Little Fire Ants Like the Threat They Are
Little fire ant colonies can contain billions of the insects, an unfathomable amount of stinging power. UH/Hawaii Ant Lab photo.

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  • JimJones

    Coqui frogs, Albizia trees, etc,etc aren’t a problem AT ALL (The frogs control the insects…). Don’t understand the need to waste the public bandwidth with complaints about them. Fire ants, mosquitos and other pests are a BIG problem, on the other hand. Yeh, make noise about THEM. …lots and lots of it….

    • Springer Fyrberg Kaye

      Hi Jim,

      I disagree–I think albizia is a big problem. Here’s why:

      Lets say there were only one major tree fall per month, blocking traffic for 4 hours (HELCO’s estimate), and power for 1,400 customers (low end count from news reports over the last year). If we assume those 1,400 customer are workers delayed for even 1 hour and each of those cost their employer $25 per hour, that comes to a cost of $420,000 per year. If they miss 4 hours of work, that’s $1.68 million per year.

      Now add in the cost of basic, compulsory, roadside maintenance at $80,000 per linear mile of 80 ft + tall trees, per year, every year, as long as the trees live, and a rate of spread of 10% per year. Right now, we estimate 30 miles in Hilo–that’s $2.4 million. (or if you prefer, awards for civil liability lawsuits ranging from 3-27 million per accidental death or dismemberment if the trees aren’t maintained).

      Next, add in the cost of crews to clean up the roads and repair the powerlines, to rebuild the crushed houses and cars the trees fall on, and the cost to human life. Don’t think death is that likely? How many of the 16,000-64,000 lost driving hours do you think might involve an attempted trip to the emergency room, or response from an ambulance or fire truck?

      Finally, imagine all these scenarios, after a Category 3 hurricane. (Most of our tree falls happen in winds maxing out at just 35 mph!)

      If none of this will convince you, keep in mind that where you have albizia, you will have little fire ants. They don’t have to come down to the ground to survive, and we don’t have anything yet to get baits into a 100 ft canopy. They will be living happily where no pesticide can reach them, and raining down on people and produce.

      So kill those trees, folks, and plant a few ohias in their place!

  • cmklv

    I was somewhat curious as to what actual FACTS there are that the coqui’s are causing any problems….other than people saying “I don’t like the noise”. The ants on the other hand….there is PLENTY of DOCUMENTED FACTS as to the harm they cause. Yes, give me the sound of the coqui’s at night….but get rid of those painful ants!

  • Springer Fyrberg Kaye

    Lets say there were only one major tree fall per month, blocking traffic for 4 hours (HELCO’s estimate), and power for 1,400 customers (low end count from news reports over the last year). If we assume those 1,400 customer are workers that are also blocked from getting to work for even 1 hour and each of those cost their employer $25 per hour, that comes to a cost of $420,000 per year. If they miss 4 hours of work, that’s $1.68 million per year.

    Now add in the cost of basic, compulsory, roadside maintenance at $80,000 per linear mile of 80 ft + tall trees, per year, every year, as long as the trees live, and rate of spread of 10% per year. (or if you prefer, awards for civil liability lawsuits ranging from 3-27 million per accidental death or dismemberment if the trees aren’t maintained).

    Next, add in the cost of crews to clean up the roads and repair the powerlines, to rebuild the crushed houses and cars the trees fall on, and the cost to human life when these trees fall on them.

    Oh yeah, and if you have albizia, I hope you like little fire ants, because they will be raining down on you, living happily where no pesticide can reach them.

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