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Posted: Tuesday, February 11th, 2014 1:34 PM HST

Hawaii takes aim at invasive little fire ants

By Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) Hawaii lawmakers have advanced a bill aiming to study and kill an ant species that threatens the state's economy and ecology.

The bill provides more than $500,000 toward coordinating efforts to corral and destroy the little fire ant. It includes money to pay for trained dogs to sniff out the tiny pests.

The invasive ants first landed on the Big Island 15 years ago. They live in trees, where they infest crops and bite agricultural workers. They also live on the ground, where they attack people and pets.

Cas Vanderwoude, the research manager of the Hawaii Ant Lab at the University of Hawaii, says conditions in Hawaii are perfectly suited to the little fire ant, making the ant especially dangerous to the state's environment.

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