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Invasive species updates from the Hawaii Invasive Species Council & partners
Volume 5, Issue 1: January - March, 2021
HISC News is a quarterly newsletter that provides 1) recurring updates from active response efforts, 2) announcements and programmatic updates from agencies and partners, and 3) upcoming events. This newsletter is sent to the full HISC email list, and readers can subscribe/unsubscribe at

Active response updates

HISC agencies and partners address a large number of invasive species issues across the state. Below are brief status updates for a few priority response efforts. For information on other invasive species projects, visit,, or
  • Little Fire Ant (LFA)
  • For updates, please visit our NEWLY REDESIGNED website:

    • Photo above: Little Fire Ant colony in folds of weed matting.
  • The Hawaii Ant Lab (HAL) field operations crew has been diligently continuing to focus on monitoring several sites around Hawaii Island for Little Fire Ants (LFA) and the early detection of new invasive ant species that would pose a serious threat to Hawaii if established. Our monitoring sites include Hilo and Kona airport, the ports of Hilo and Kawaihae, and the mulch distribution facilities at East Hawaii Organics Facility (EHOF in Hilo), West Hawaii Organics Facility (WHOF in Puuanahulu), and the Kealakehe Transfer Station. The port of Kawaihae and the mulch distribution facilities at WHOF and Kealakehe Transfer Station remain to be LFA free. Although LFA continue to be present along the perimeter of EHOF, there were no detections of LFA in the mulch piles.  A small, isolated population of LFA was detected in the Air Cargo section of the Kona Airport and is currently on a treatment schedule to be eradicated.  And at the Hilo airport and port of Hilo, we continue to treat sections of the perimeter where LFA encroach from surrounding infested properties. Overall, there were no new invasive ant species detected.
  • The HAL Hilo Extension team are still conducting in person social distanced small group site visits for farms, nurseries, and other industries who need help, however our venture into more internet based trainings have allowed us to reach more people in need across Hawaii and even other parts of the world. In the first quarter of 2021 the HAL Hilo office extension team has conducted site visits and trainings for 5 separate locations on the island to include farms and County of Hawaii Highways Division Base Yards. We have also had 3 Ant Management Zoom meetings allowing access to residents and those interested in managing LFA our more in depth training. Lastly, we did online presentations for the Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers as well as the Landscaping Industry Council of Hawaii.
  • HAL Kona office has been busy with a steady booking of site visits. From mango farms to kupuna, and from wealthy subdivisions to Hawaiian educational sites, there has been a vast array of community types who are being affected by the LFA. No matter the site though, appreciation is unanimous when my fellow community members learn there is a safe and effective way to manage their LFA issues. Phase 3 treatments of Kaloko-Honokohau National Park has been able to stay on schedule, and we are anticipating good results with our upcoming midpoint survey scheduled for early April. LFA have been detected by HAL Hilo research staff at a small area of the Kona Air Cargo terminals, and HAL Kona was able to do an emergency response treatment shortly after. There will be continued monitoring and treatments of the site.
  • HAL Oahu has had an eventful quarter. Following months of shutdown due to the Covid pandemic, HAL Oahu determined that all LFA populations should be re-surveyed to evaluate any spread of the ants during our absence. Within this quarter, 8 active sites, ranging in size from less than an acre to several acres, have been surveyed and treatment plans have been initiated. This quarter also saw four new detections around the island. These sites would  not have been discovered if not for the watchful eye of concerned residents. HAL greatly relies on public awareness to aid us in detecting new LFA infestations.  The last quarter saw the addition of a new, full time employee for HAL Oahu. Jolie Goldenetz Dollar comes with a background in forestry and arboriculture and has experience in integrated pest management. With her years of experience in community engagement and grass roots environmental initiatives she has proven a strong addition to our crew. Welcome, Jolie!
  • Winter is a slow time for HAL research since cooler temperatures and wet weather drive LFA to spend more time within their nests and foraging activity is erratic. Because of this, we focus our time on writing up the results from previous experiments and performing small laboratory experiments. Two manuscripts are in progress: 1) Eradicating little fire ants from the island of Kauai, Hawaii: process, challenges, and results to date, and 2) Laboratory Evaluation of Entrust (Spinosad) in the Hawaii Ant Lab Gel Bait for control of little fire ants.
  • Aside from the manuscripts, we have conducted a couple small experiments looking at how different concentrations of gum arabic (an emulsifier) affects oil separation of the HAL gel bait and investigating on whether or not guar gum may be an effective alternative to xanthan gum as a thickening agent in the gel bait recipe. From past experiments, the addition of gum arabic (3% of total bait mixture) has proven to prevent the oil in the gel bait from separating and we are now testing whether lower quantities are equally effective. Our preliminary results with guar gum as an alternative or in addition to xanthan gum are promising. Guar gum appears to be an excellent thickener and is readily available at local grocery stores. Our next step is to conduct tests to ensure attractiveness and palatability of the gel bait are not adversely affected by the ingredient change. Through this work, we hope to improve upon the HAL gel bait recipe and provide residents with ingredient alternatives in the event certain ingredients are unavailable or hard to find. Shipping delays due to COVID-19 have led to inventory shortages and products being out-of-stock or on back order. Providing the public with alternate ingredients helps to ensure their treatment schedules are maintained despite product shortages.
  • If you find that you or your organization has an issue with invasive ants, please feel free to contact the Hawaii Ant Lab at (808) 315-5656. We are here to assist with best management plans for any situation
  • The Hawaii Ant Lab (HAL) has continued coordinating Little Fire Ant (LFA) eradication efforts with HDOA, ISCs, CGAPS, and other agencies on Kauai, Oahu, and Maui. Though it may seem disheartening that LFA are being detected, it shows an increased awareness of this invasive species. These detections have population sizes that indicate the ants have been there for some time. This reinforces the need to test your properties for LFA at least once per year, and to test any high risk items you are bringing onto a property. Vigilance is key.
  • Little Fire Ants (Wasmannia auropunctata) are TINY! Only about 1/8" in length, but pack a sting like an ELECTRIC SHOCK! In Australia, LFA are called "Electric Ants" due to their shocking sting!
    • Additional outbreaks of Little Fire Ants have been detected on neighbor islands, some of which may be linked to the movement of personal items. As a reminder, Little Fire Ants are hitchhikers and can catch a ride on nearly anything. We can accidentally bring them with us when we travel or move to another island, so test all belongings and ensure you don’t bring this pest home with you!
  • Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle (CRB):
    • Two new outreach specialists -- Kaili Kosaka and Koki Atcheson -- have joined the team. They’re building on Kailee Tam Lefebvre’s outreach work and adapting to the challenges of COVID-19 by developing online outreach channels. They can be reached at (Kaili) and (Koki). For more information or pictures, please contact the CRB Response at 679-5244 or
    • Other new positions:
      • In the next quarter, the CRB Response will be hiring for a full or part time Canine Team Supervisor. If you or someone in your network has experience training detection canines, please keep an eye out on the jobs site, or email so we can notify you once the position has been posted.
    • Media projects
      • Still from “A day in the life of the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle Response.” contracted video from Jordan Darley @bydarls on Instagram
    • We’ve put out some new videos on our social media accounts and YouTube channel. Our videos range from PSAs that explain our black panel traps to a “Day in the Life” video that talks through what it’s like to be on the CRB Response team. We also have recorded presentations on best management practices for golf courses, how CRB damage palms, and a fun scavenger hunt activity. Check out our YouTube channel to see what we’ve been up to:
    • This heat map shows where our traps have caught CRB in the past six months. Our highest-catch areas are represented by larger circles and include Pearl City Peninsula, Waipio Peninsula, and Iroquois Point. Emerging populations in Mililani and Kunia are represented by smaller circles. New single beetle detections in Pupukea, Waimanalo, and Kaneohe are believed to be human-vectored.
  • Outlier catches:
    • Our approach against CRB infestation hinges on our ability to treat breeding material and palms in our highest catch areas, and respond to detections of CRB far outside of their expected range. In the past six months, our traps have caught single beetles in Pupukea, Waimanalo, and Kaneohe⁠. CRB detections in these areas are considered outliers and it is more likely that these CRB were accidentally transported to the new area by humans, rather than traveling independently.
    • Our protocol for responding to outlying catches is designed to prevent population establishment. We deploy new traps in the area and service them more regularly, survey for tree damage and potential breeding material, and survey breeding material with our canines if appropriate. Our outreach staff shares information about CRB with residents and businesses in the area, and explores potential pathways for transport.
    • Although outlying catches are a large concern for our program, previous outlying catches have not always resulted in population spread. As we continue our work to monitor for CRB these new areas, we can report that there have been no additional detections in 144 days since the Pupukea catch, 92 days since the Kaneohe catch, and 56 days since the Waimanalo catch. (These data were calculated at the time of submitting this article on 3/17/2021.)
  • Rapid Ohia Death (ROD):
    • April is Native Hawaiian Plant Month in Hawaiʻi. During the month, native plants are showcased throughout the month to highlight the special importance native plants provide to our natural environment. This month also hosts the 3rd annual ʻŌhiʻa Lehua Day (April 25th). Events for this day and the whole month are being designed to comply with the most current COVID-19 gathering requirements to provide an engaging virtual experience.
      More event information will be shared during the month of March on our Facebook and Instagram pages.
    • The USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Diagnostic Lab in Hilo is responsible for processing all ROD samples from across the state. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, USDA ARS is currently only processing high-priority samples. If you have any ROD samples please keep them in the refrigerator and we will inform everyone once ARS lab is accepting samples again. If samples are kept in the refrigerator, they can last up to 8, possibly 12 weeks.
    • Since our last newsletter, COVID-19 restrictions have eased and the ROD field crews from across the state continue to work on 'ōhi'a conservation in a variety of ways:
    • Bi-annual helicopter surveys were conducted on all islands, with Hawai‘i Island doing quarterly surveys, to identify suspect ROD trees;
    • Suspect trees from across the state are currently being sampled;
    • Baseline and monitoring surveys are being conducted of key forested plots by way of unmanned aerial vehicles (a.k.a. drones) on Kauai and Hawai‘i Island;
    • Research projects continue across the state looking at topics such as entomology, pathology, genetics and resistance, spatial data analysis of aerial surveys, and 'ōhi'a restoration;
    • Boot brush stations at numerous trailheads across the state continue to be installed and maintained; and
    • Sowing and growing 'ōhi'a for scientific studies and future restoration efforts!
    • Our Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death entomology team continues to study the role of ambrosia beetles in the spread of the disease. As beetles bore into the sapwood of infected trees, they kick out frass—fine wood particles and beetle excrement—that can carry live fungal spores. This frass can get stuck to shoes, tools, and vehicles, and can also be blown by wind. On Kaua'i, little is known about the beetle communities, so USGS researchers have started studies to learn more. Their goals include: 1) To identify what beetle species exist on Kaua‘i; 2) To identify what beetle species are attacking infected and dying ‘ōhi‘a on Kaua‘i; and 3) To tease out answers to the question of how important it is to cover felled infected ‘ōhi‘a with tarps or not. Keep in mind, these beetles are super tiny—about the size of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's ear on a dime—and require the use of a hand lens to find and a microscope to identify.
    • Research Updates

    • Aerial Mapping surveys 
      The Spatial Data Analysis and Visualization Lab (SDAV) from UH Hilo has been conducting aerial surveys across Hawaiʻi Island to gather information that has helped to identify suspect ROD trees. Mapping surveys enable researchers to locate suspect trees for the presence of Ceratocystis. The above map is from the Kahuku Unit of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and shows the abundance and distribution of suspect trees in fenced vs. unfenced areas. The red circles are trees that have a high level of confidence for the presence of  ROD while the orange circles are trees that have a medium level of confidence for ROD. 
      The green lines indicate fences along the border of the Park, and the forest to the east (right) of the park is state Ka‘u Forest Reserve. Feral pigs and mouflon sheep have largely been removed from the Park, whereas pigs are abundant in the state forest. Trees typically show symptoms only for several months, so this map does not reflect mortality in previous years. Open wounds serve as entry points for ROD. One of the major ways trees get wounded are from feral grazing hooved animals (ungulates) that peel the bark off trees or damage roots. We have now seen several examples where ROD is prevalent in areas with high populations of feral animals but little ROD in fenced areas where feral animals have been kept out.  These survey maps provide insight into management efforts that can help reduce the spread of ROD. 

      ROD Resilience Study
      Blaine Luiz began work on ROD as an undergraduate summer intern. He was so enthralled with the investigating plant diseases that he went on to a master’s degree at UH Hilo. He recently published his work with former UH Hilo botany professor Elizabeth Stacy and USDA plant pathologist Lisa Keith. The scientists looked for resistance to ROD by inoculating 128 seedlings of four different varieties of ohia from Hawaii Island with the ROD pathogen Ceratocystis lukuohia. The found that while most of the inoculated trees died in the first seven weeks, some survived. More seedlings from var. incana and var. newellii survived than did seedlings of var. glaberrima, and all the var. polymorpha died. Five years later, some of the incana seedlings are still alive. Their study showed that there is indeed genetic resistance to ROD in at least some ohia populations.
      Blaine is now heading up the ‘Ōhi‘a Disease Resistance Project with the Akaka Foundation for Tropical Forests. Instead of just over a hundred seedlings, they are collecting hundreds of cuttings and growing thousands of seedlings so that they can really get an idea of how widespread resistance to ROD is among the many kinds of ‘ōhi‘a in Hawai‘i and eventually develop resistant lines for restoration.
    • Learn more about the ROD Seed Banking Initiative and sign up for future workshops at
    • Newsletter:  To view the current issue of the newsletter click the link as follows:
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    • Please contact Ambyr Mokiao-Lee (ambyr[at] for more information.
    • The fungi (Ceratocystis lukuohia and Ceratocystis huliohia) that kill ʻōhiʻa are known as “wound pathogens”. That means in order for the tree to become infected, the tree has to have a wound – a wound that penetrates the bark. Wounds allow the microscopic fungal spores to enter a tree. Trees can be wounded in different ways – when high winds break branches, by scuffing tree roots when hiking, when blazing trails in the forest, by pruning trees in your yard. And there’s another way: when animals such as pigs, goats, cattle, or sheep peel or rub bark off trees. Studies on Hawaiʻi Island show that areas without such animals have much lower prevalence of ROD. Often, these areas are fenced to keep animals out. Data for unfenced areas show an opposite pattern. In these areas, where ungulates roam, trees get wounded and there can be a much greater prevalence of ʻōhiʻa that have died due to ROD. The two take-aways here: 1) it’s important not to wound ʻōhiʻa; and 2) it’s important to protect ʻōhiʻa from hooved animals.
      • Photo above: Rapid `Ohi`a Death informational display in baggage claim area of Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) in Honolulu, O`ahu.
      • This document outlines efforts and progress made in understanding the disease, its pathology, and the various science-driven management activities implemented across the state for long-term health of our forests. It also provides recommendations for priority actions, complete with cost estimates.
      • The updated Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death Strategic Plan has just been published and is available for reading and downloading here:

    • Sanitize for inter-island travel! Not just for coronavirus!

      Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death disease (ROD) has been detected on Hawaiʻi Island, Kauaʻi, Maui and Oʻahu. If you or someone you know will be traveling inter-island, please take extra care to clean your shoes and gear before and after traveling between islands to prevent the spread of ROD. First brush the dirt off, then spray with 70% rubbing alcohol. If hiking, remember to stay off of ʻōhiʻa roots –walking on roots can break bark and expose the trees to ROD-causing fungi.

    • What is the latest recommendation for what to do with infected ʻōhiʻa wood?     Keep wood onsite. Don’t turn it into mulch as that creates more material to spread disease. If felling a tree, cut with a sharpened tool on a low-wind, drizzly day to keep infectious material from moving around. Make as few cuts as possible. Wood can be safely burned in an imu, barbecue, smokehouse, or fireplace. Otherwise, keep it covered with a tarp to keep boring ambrosia beetles from attacking or escaping from the wood.
  • Recommended Actions to Prevent the Spread of ROD:
    • 1) Keep your eyes open. If you see ʻōhiʻa with a limb or crown turning brown, take a picture, and contact KISC via email ( or phone (808-821-1490). Samples of the wood must be taken by trained technicians and tested in a laboratory to confirm the presence of the ROD fungi.
    • 2) Avoid injuring ʻōhiʻa. Wounds serve as entry points for the fungus and increase the odds that the tree will become infected and die from ROD. Avoid pruning and contact with heavy equipment wherever possible.
    • 3) Clean gear and tools, including shoes and clothes, before and after entering the forest and areas where ʻōhiʻa may be present. Brush all soil off tools and gear, then spray with 70% rubbing alcohol. Wash clothes with hot water and soap.
    • 4) Wash your vehicle with a high-pressure hose or washer if you’ve been off-roading or have picked up mud from driving. Clean all soil off tires--including mountain bikes and motorcycles--and vehicle undercarriage. The disease can be spread to new areas by moving plants, plant parts, and wood from infected areas to non-infected areas.
    (All images/video courtesy: DLNR)
  • Photo above: Kalalau Valley courtesy of Nate Yuen
Program & Project Updates
Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR)
  • Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR)
    • Please visit the link above for general information.
    • The Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) received a report of a non-native species of corallimorph in Honolulu, Oʻahu on July 13, 2020. The corallimorph was identified by a DAR biologist, David Gulko, as Discosoma nummiforme. Discosoma nummiforme was previously found in 1997 and was thought to have been fully eradicated in 2006 in the identified area. With the information provided on July 13, 2020, the Hawaiʻi Coral Restoration Nursery (HCRN) and the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Team conducted surveys on August 4, 2020 at multiple locations. A large colony was identified at the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor and the AIS Team conducted eradication efforts from September 23, 2020 to October 15, 2020. Colonies of D. nummiforme were covered using a combination of Quikrete, Cement and Two Part Epoxy Compound. The AIS Team continues to monitor the location.
    • The first hatchery-raised sea urchins out-planted in Kāneʻohe Bay are 10-years-old, and the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit (PCSU) and the State of Hawaiʻi Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) are celebrating the milestone anniversary. The sea urchin hatchery, funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and DAR, successfully transplanted the first cohort in January 2011 and has since released 600,000 sea urchins across the state. These sea urchins have proven to be incredibly successful at controlling invasive seaweed, a major priority for coral conservation in Hawaiʻi. To date, the sea urchin biocontrol project has treated more than 227 acres of reef in Kāneʻohe Bay, and has recently expanded to the Waikīkī Marine Life Conservation District to control invasive algae.
    • View Full Story Here:
    • The Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR), Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Team worked in collaboration with Hawaiʻi Invasive Species Council (HISC) to bring aquatic invasive species presentations online for Hawaiʻi Invasive Species Awareness Month (HISAM) 2021. AIS team members hosted and moderated the aquatic talks, as well as presenting alongside other DAR staff to educate the public on the importance of aquatic invasive species management.
    • View Aquatic Talks Here: 
      View All HISAM Talks (including terrestrial topics) Here:
    • The HISC/CGAPS Aquatic Biosecurity Working Group was led by members of DAR’s AIS team. Team members presented on pre-border and post-border DAR AIS databases, and DAR AIS risk screening protocols. An update on Bishop Museum’s database project was discussed, as well as measures for tracking effectiveness. These topics addressed joint strategy 3: Aquatic Biosecurity key actions 1, 8, and 9 in the HISC & CGAPS Joint 2025 Strategy.
    • DAR’s AIS team provided vessel and diver support to a pilot Avrainvillea erecta control study led by Liv Wheeler, a UH student in Dr. Celia Smith’s lab. This pilot project aims to study possible treatment options for the new introduction that is closely related to invasive leather mud weed, Avrainvillea lacerata. A. erecta was first sighted during a 2014 United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) survey in Honolulu Harbor, and identified by Wade et al. (2018). New sightings confirm its spread from Honolulu Harbor to Waikiki as well as Ewa Beach and on Maui at Kahekili Beach Park. This spread along a shoreline and inter-island, in 6 years represents a significant new threat to coastal health in Hawaiʻi. Management options being explored in this study include physical removal experiments and in situ and chemical application of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2).
    • Throughout February and March 2021, there were reports of zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha), a highly invasive species, attached and inside Marimo moss balls (Aegagropila linnaei) in the continental US. Zebra mussels are typically spread through the vector of recreational freshwater boating, this incident brought to light another potential vector- the aquarium trade. The Marimo moss balls are illegal to import into Hawaii, but the AIS team coordinated a response locally. From March 9th to March 17th, the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Program looked into the potential distribution of the invasive zebra mussels via Marimo moss balls by visiting pet and aquarium stores in Oahu, Maui and Kaui. An effort was made to not only survey merchandise, but also talk with employees and distribute information about the recent report. Thankfully, no moss balls were found and the majority of employers were already aware of the import restrictions in the state.
    • The BWBF team hired two UH students to support the ARMS project for the spring semester and two temp hires to support the BWBF team. The third ARMS unit on Oahu was retrieved and UH student hires are currently sorting samples at the Bishop Museum. The team is planning the fourth retrieval for next month. Twenty autonomous reef monitoring structures (ARMS) were deployed throughout the main Hawaiian Islands in July of 2018. ARMS were placed in commercial harbors that included: Nawiliwili, Kauai; Kahului, Maui; Honolulu, Oahu; Kalaeloa/Barber’s Point, Oahu; Hilo, Big Island. The goals of the project are to (1) build species checklists and understand what species are present; (2) build voucher collection and DNA barcode reference library; and (3) identify new records of species.
    • In collaboration with CGAPS, DLNR supported the CZM consistency review of EPA Vessel Incidental Discharge National Standards of Performance. VIDA is a federal statute that creates federal regulations for discharges incidental to the normal operation of vessels.
    • The BWBF team is in the last round of edits for the Commercial Fishing Vessel Biofouling Best Practices handout with the Western Regional Panel Coastal Committee, and it will be submitted for approval next month.
    • The AIS team developed an Aquatic Species Invasiveness Screening Kit (AS-ISK) question guidance SOP and began a UH student pilot study to validate the tool for Hawaii. Developing the risk screening process aids the AIS team in management of species of concern.
    • The BWBF Coordinator joined the Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) Working Group for the Pacific Region to address concerns of the possibility of the disease being transported via ballast water and raise awareness in Hawaii.
  • Division Of Forestry And Wildlife (DOFAW)
    • Please visit the link above for general information. 
  • Kaho`olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC)
    • Please visit the link above for general information.
Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA)
  • Please visit the link above for general information.
  • Coffee Berry Borer (CBB) recently discovered on Kaua`i
  • Rapid Ohia Death (ROD)
    • ROD Reminder: Anyone on ROD-free islands with suspect trees should call their local Invasive Species Committee (see links below under University of Hawaii's Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit) so that any samples go through HDOA's Plant Quarantine Branch (PQB) and not through the regular post – More information can be found at
Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH) - Please visit the link at left for general information.

Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT)
  • Mamalu Poepoe (Sphere of Protection) Project - Mamalu Poepoe is a project funded by the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) for a period of 5 years. The program is being coordinated through the Hawaii Invasive Species Council (HISC) and aims at increasing surveillance of invasive species at six airport facilities on the islands of Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Maui and Hawaii. The program targets Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle (CRB), Africanized honeybees (AHB), ants and mosquitoes.
  • The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) is the lead agency for the work on ants, CRB and AHB and the Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH) is the lead agency for the work on mosquitoes. Mamalu Poepoe is partnering with the Invasive Species Committees (ISC’s) and the Hawaii Ant Lab (HAL) to conduct the monitoring activities. 
University of Hawaii (UH) - Please visit the link at left and the links below for general information.
  • Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species (CGAPS)
  • Big Island Invasive Species Committee (BIISC) 
  • Kaua`i Invasive Species Committee (KISC)
    • Please visit the link above for general information.
    • Highlight: Reclaiming Kekaha
    • 2020 has thrown quite a few curveballs for the KISC team but it hasn't stopped our efforts of invasive species work. Our field crew began a new native seed distribution project in Kekaha at a worksite that was once densely covered with invasive Long Thorn Kiawe (LTK). After diligently controlling this invasive tire destroyer for years, the KISC team broadcasted native seed and seed balls.  Over 17,000 seeds from 16 different native plant species were dispersed. We are currently controlling any new LTK emerging and monitoring the effectiveness of the seed dispersal methods with hopes it may be a new way to reclaim recently cleared areas.
  • Caption: Native plant seed spheres ready to deploy. 
  • Caption: KISC crew in native seed dispersal plots. 
  • Coqui:
    • The Kauai community continues to work together to keep Kauai coqui free. Over the course of 6 surveys, the KISC team, in partnership with HDOA, responded to multiple coqui reports from the community and controlled 3 coqui in two locations on the eastside of Kauai.  Please support Pono Endorsed Nurseries to help keep Kauai coqui free! 
  • Kauaʻi ʻŌhiʻa and Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death:
    • Unfortunately, Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death has now been detected in the Kokeʻe area. Kauaʻi DOFAW and KISC are working jointly to respond. Forest users are highly encouraged to practice heightened bio-security before and after entering the forest
  • Outreach:
    • KISC was invited to provide outreach education and activities by Kupulau Institute for school kids on spring break.
    • In March, KISC partnered with the statewide ROD Outreach Team to produce weekly workshops with other conservation outreach professionals around the state. These workshops were geared to provide updates on the latest science in Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death, as well as outreach activities and opportunities. 

  • Media and Upcoming events:

    • For Hawaii Invasive Species Month of February, KISC had produced a 3 part video series that takes viewers through the watershed of Kauaʻi. The series focused on Kōkeʻe, Hulēʻia fishpond, and Kāhili stream. In each episode, the KISC crew highlights the impacts of invasive species through the watershed.

    • If you'd like to watch the series check out the Kauai Invasive Species Committee Youtube Page 

    • In March, KISC partnered with Kauaʻi Forest Bird Recovery Project to produce a monthly virtual outreach activity called Forest Fridays. The conversation will feature various conservation partners across Kauaʻi and their work in the forest. Our next event is scheduled for Friday, April 9th at 4:00 p.m. and will feature Andre Raine from Kauaʻi Endangered Seabird Recovery Project and Dustin Wokis from National Tropical Botanical Garden. The event can be viewed live on KISCʻs Facebook page.

    • KISC kicked off a monthly campaign called “Faces of the Forest” that will feature either an  individual species that relies on ʻōhiʻa for some form of its life history requirements or an individual working in the forest.


  • Coqui frogs (Eleutherodactylus coqui 
  • Little Fire Ants (Wasmannia auropunctata) 
  • Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death (ROD) 
  • Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC)
    • Please visit the link above for general information.
    • Little Fire Ants

      The focus of the first quarter of 2021 for MISC’s LFA Crew was maintenance and monitoring:
    • No new Little Fire Ant infestations were detected this quarter.
    • In addition to responding to numerous reports from the public of suspicious ants, the LFA Crew conducted treatments and/or monitoring surveys at ten different LFA sites around the island.  Most of these sites are in either monitoring mode (meaning: No LFA have been found in the most recent surveys); or else what we refer to as Hot Spot Treatment mode (meaning: LFA are nearly wiped out, but one or a few stubborn spots isolated within the original infested area are being targeted for elimination).
    • Three sites are being actively managed, with significant LFA populations still being treated.  These sites are at Nāhiku, Kaʻelekū and Haʻikū (Kaupakalua Rd).
    • Nāhiku – Maui’s largest and most challenging infestation – was treated via helicopter twice this quarter.  Next quarter we plan to descend on this 150+ acre site with two dozen surveyors spending a week searching for LFA to gauge the level of success we’ve achieved with this unprecedented method of controlling LFA from the air.
    • Coqui
      Report a coqui frog on Maui here.
      Community Coqui Control Program
    • The Community Coqui Control team added an additional micro-neighborhood group to our schedule during the first quarter of 2021. Altogether, we held nine neighborhood spray weeks, seven micro-neighborhood spray nights and four spray nights working directly with individual property owners to control coqui frogs. 
    • The Community Coqui Control team has taken the lead on the deployment and monitoring of 17 Song Meter Mini acoustic monitors.  Currently, these monitors are set up on private properties around Haʻikū and are collecting initial data to help our partners at Conservation Metrics to develop an algorithm for analyzing coqui frog calls. We look forward to learning more about the distribution of coqui frogs utilizing these acoustic monitors.
    • Plants
      Hāna Crew:
    • Continue with Hāna Highway buffer survey/control & trail cutting on difficult terrain and thick vegetation for Miconia within the Puaʻa Kaʻa (Nāhiku area) to Wailuanui (Keʻanae area)
    • Respond, survey and control Miconia from public reports for Miconia at Lower Nāhiku, Hāna and Kīpahulu
    • Plant Crew:
    • Wildland Pampas grass ground survey/control within Haleakalā Ranch & Polipoli areas.  Ground controlled a monster Pampas grass found by aerial reconnaissance near Polipoli on private land.
    • Weather has been super rainy & challenging to complete scheduled management area survey. Property access permission for East Maui Pampas grass survey has been ongoing this quarter.
    • Immediate report response and control of Ivy gourd on a 27-acre property in Haʻiku and a parking lot at a new Puʻunēnē location.
    • Completed two 6-week survey re-visit intervals at the Puʻu o Kali Fountain grass with 1 immature plant controlled. No Fountain grass plants detected at all other known monitoring locations.
    • Coastal strand and golf course area Ivy gourd survey and control continues. Several residential Ivy gourd site re-visits are on standby due to Covid-19 restrictions for staff public engagement.
    • Assist West Maui Watershed Crew with Aerial spray rig training for Mule’s Foot fern control.
    • Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death response:
    • One voucher collected in Lower Kula by Mike Ade and sent to the Hilo USDA/ARS Lab through HDOA Maui Plant Quarantine Staff with no Ceratocystis being detected.
    • Responded to suspicious Ohia decline report in Makawao. Not ROD symptomatic. No voucher collected.
    • MISC Early Detection (Forest and Kim Starr)
    • Naio Thrips
    • Cultivated and wild naio plants were revisited this past quarter, as part of the Hawaii Invasive Species Committee (HISC) early detection and rapid response plan for naio thrips (Klambothrips myopori). Though naio thrips are known from the Big Island and Oahu, they have yet to be detected on Maui.
    • Māmalu Poepoe
      The goal of the Māmalu Poepoe HISC project is to increase capacity for early detection of invasive species at Hawaii airports. Monthly monitoring of Kahului Airport for Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle (CRB), Africanized Honey Bees, and honey bee pests such as Varroa Mite continues. Though CRB is present on Oʻahu, and varroa mites are elsewhere in the state, none of the target species have yet been detected on Maui.
    • Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death
      We continue to sit in on statewide conference calls, science team calls, and local working group meetings to stay current with the latest science and management of ROD.
    • Identifications
    • The Hawaii Plant and Insect ID sites we maintain on Flickr continue to provide free identifications to conservation professionals and the general public. In the last quarter there were 45 plants and 6 insects identified.
    • Keālia Restoration
    • We toured Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge with FWS staff, looking at restoration sites and surveying for incipient invasive plant species. A number of incipient plants were identified on the refuge, including ivy gourd (Coccinia grandis), a MISC target.
      Public Relations/Education
    • Hawaiʻi Invasive Species Awareness Month
      MISC gave 10 virtual presentations (including 2 MMCAT) for the Hawaiʻi Invasive Species Awareness Month (HISAM). Two Maui residents and one business received HISAM awards. They were: Maui Nui MVP: Keith Ideoka, Business Leader:  Maui Disposal – Bill Hendershot, and Community Hero: John Phelps. Congratulations to all recipients! MISC also hosted a virtual scavenger hunt in celebration of HISAM, and received 23 submissions. Three winners were chosen in a raffle and received ʻōhiʻa trees as prizes from Native Nursery.
    • Virtual Hōʻike o Haleakalā Presentations
      Hōʻike o Haleakalā classroom presentations have gone virtual and have been high on demand from Maui educators. Throughout this quarter, MISC has given 14 presentations to 266 students at 5 different schools throughout Maui county. Students have been able to engage in a virtual setting, along with being given hands-on activities to do either in the classroom or at home.
    • Maui Mauka Conservation Awareness Trainings (MMCAT)
      MISC worked with the East Maui Watershed Partnership (EMWP) and Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project (MFBRP) to offer two trainings in February for the Maui Mauka Conservation Awareness Training Program. Featured speakers were Adam Wong from the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Aquatic Resources who discussed research on Molokiniʻs marine ecosystem during the Covid-19 lockdown, and Teya Penniman with the American Bird Conservancy who presented on wolbachia as and effort to protect native forest birds from mosquito borne diseases.
    • Kiaʻi Moku
      Three articles for the Maui New’s Kia’i Moku column were submitted this quarters. The topics were the two-lined spittle bug, 643-PEST, and skunks.
    • Molokaʻi- Maui Invasive Species Commitee (MoMISC)
      Priority Species Highlights:
    • Rubbervine- During the first quarter of 2021, Cryptostegia madagascariensis (rubbervine) was a strong focus for MoMISC. During this period, our field crew surveyed a total of 1,477 acres and controlled 12 immature plants. Rubbervine has been a target species for the past 12 years, and throughout this time our crew has controlled nearly 8,400 plants at various stages of maturity. With the exception of a new site discovered in 2017, detections have been trending downward; a promising sign that with consistent suppression, eradication is possible.
    • Quail Bush- For the past 7 years, MoMISC has been controlling Atriplex lentiformis (quail bush) on Molokai. Early detection, aggressive initial suppression, and consistent site monitoring have resulted in the containment of its spread and a drastic decline in new detections. For this quarter, MoMISC crew surveyed 84 acres for this species and controlled a total of 10 immature plants. For comparison, in 2014 our crew controlled over 1,750 plants at various stages of maturity.
    • Tree Daisy- Montanoa hibiscifolia is a known invader of riparian areas on Molokai. Tree daisy received special attention this quarter as our eagle-eyed crew surveyed nearly 680 acres for this priority pest species, with no detections found.
    • Early Detection:
    • LFA & CRB- Our crew continues to conduct early detection surveys and testing for both Little Fire Ant and Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle. We are happy to report zero detections on Molokai.
    • Training and Education:
    • Heli-Ops Training- The MoMISC field crew successfully completed a virtual IAT helicopter training course in March. This course focused on delivering an overview of Crew Resource Management and provided training in topics like task management, situational awareness, and effective communication. We like to keep our skills sharp, and hope to resume early detection surveys for miconia and other incipient pests this year.
  • O`ahu Invasive Species Committee (OISC) 
    • Please visit the link above for general information.
    • Office staff continues to telework and the outreach team has put together on-demand informational and education webinars and downloadable activity worksheets for keiki and we now have online educational resources available for distance learning at: 
    • Early Detection While Staying Home: While we’re all doing our part to flatten the curve, this is also an excellent opportunity to do some early detection around your home and neighborhood.
    • Please report any suspect invasive species to the statewide pest hotline by calling 643-PEST or online at  You can also download the free app (643pest) for your smartphone. 
    • Little Fire Ants: While we’re home this is a great time to test your yard for little fire ants. Hawaii Department of Agriculture is still accepting mailed ant samples. Testing is easy and you can also let us know your results online. If you can send a clear photo of your ants, we can tell you if you should mail them in for identification.
                      Test for Little Fire Ant:
                      Are your ant suspect? We’ll let you know: 
    • Coqui frogs: Oahu doesn’t have widespread coqui frogs. However, they and their eggs occasionally hitchhike over from Big Island. When coqui frogs hatch they are not tadpoles, but instead fully formed frogs…this means they don’t need ponding water to survive. If you’re out for an evening or early morning walk or run around the neighborhood, stop for a few minutes to listen for coqui frogs. The easiest way is to listen for them while having a coffee early in the morning…or an even better time, while having a nightcap on the lanai. If you hear them, you can just record the sound with your video and report it to 643pest.
      Not sure what coqui frogs sound like? Click here to listen to their recording:
      Aloha and stay safe. We’re all very much looking forward to getting back into the field!
    • Miconia (Miconia calvescens) 
      • If you suspect miconia, report to OISC along with photos if possible. E: P: 808-266-7994.
    • Devil Weed (Chromolaena odorata) 
      • If you suspect devil weed, report to OISC along with photos if possible. E: P: 808-266-7994. 
    • Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death (ROD) 
      • If you see ‘ōhiʻa that is dead or dying with brown leaves still attached, report to OISC along with photos if possible. E: P: 808-266-7994.
    • Naio Thrips (Klambothrips myopori) 
      • OISC is still conducting early detection surveys and removing both infested naio plants as well as landscaped naio that is not yet infested. Have a naio plant in your yard? OISC will replace it with an alternative native plant if you remove your naio BEFORE it gets infested. Our goal is to protect wild naio populations by removing landscaped naio so the thrips do not have harbors that allow them to move around the island. These wild naio plants provide important habitat for native seabirds, forest birds, bees, and other fauna. Report naio plants to OISC along with photos if possible. E: P: 808-266-7994.
  • Hawaii Association of Watershed Partnerships (HAWP)
HISC Support
  • 643pest.org643-PEST app, or the 643-PEST (7378) telephone hotline. 
    • 643PEST.ORG pest report facilitators communicate with every person reporting a pest, providing identification verification, educational information on the species, and any additional actions that can be taken. 
  • HISAM 2021
    • Due to COVID-19, Hawai`i Invasive Species Awareness Month (HISAM) was restricted to a wide-range of virtual events throughout the state; including weekly presentations from each of the Invasive Species Committees in each county, as well as the HISC HISAM Awards for 2021.
  • The HISC Facebook page now has over 1,323 followers. Please Like & Follow HISC on Facebook to receive updates from HISC news, posts from our website, and invasive species-related posts from our constituent agencies and partners.
  • The HISC Brown Bag series continues! Check the link in the Upcoming Events section below for the next presentation dates & topics.

Hawaii-Pacific Weed Risk Assessment (HPWRA) program

    • New Assessments: The HPWRA promotes responsible and informed planting choices by providing an objective, science-based and accurate method of assessing the invasive potential of plants being imported into and/or planted within the Hawaiian Islands.  All assessments can be accessed at the Plant Pono website: (

Upcoming events

Visit the HISC Website
Like HISC on Facebook
 Your HISC Support Team

Joshua Atwood, Ph.D., Acting HISC Program Supervisor: Joshua.P.Atwood[@]
Leyla Kaufman, Ph.D., Mamalu Poepoe Coordinator: leyla.v.kaufman[@]
Chelsea Arnott, M.S., HISC Planner: chelsea.l.arnott.researcher[@]
Randy Bartlett, HISC Interagency Coordinator: randal.t.bartlett[@]
Elizabeth Speith, Report Facilitator: speith[@]

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Hawaii Invasive Species Council · 1151 Punchbowl Street, Room 325 · Honolulu, HI 96813 · USA

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