To control fire ants, highly venomous ants originally from south America, OIST and University of Ryukyus, and other related bodies have been reinforcing their collaboration. With their shared direction for immediate information sharing with the world level research institutes, related officials are proudly stating, “There is no other example like Okinawa nationwide.”
During the fuss over fire ants nationwide, an emergency meeting was held on July 13, among Ministry of Environment Nature and Environment Office in Naha, Naha Port Maintenance Union, OIST and other prefectural officials to share the future direction on fire ants monitoring and concrete countermeasures. On July 19th and 21st, affiliated people voluntarily gathered at the International Container Berth in Naha Port to carry out thorough inspection, and no fire ant was confirmed to be identified.
Prior to this on July 12th, Ministry of Land and Transportation issued a request, demanding local municipalities to place insecticidal feeds and investigate possible fire ants distribution. However, there had been no concrete methods shown, and according to Hiroji Ono, an official from Ministry of Environment, Nature and Environment Office in Naha, “First, we wanted to talk what to do in Okinawa.” Masashi Yoshimura, an OIST researcher emphasized saying, “There have been no fire ants in Okinawa, and if we place insecticidal feeds, there would be impacts on other kinds of insects. We needed to establish a system where we can persuade the government officials that Okinawa can manage this issue without insecticidal feeds.”
Professor. Kazuki Tsuji from Agriculture Department of the University of Ryukyus has been studying on habitation and environment of fire ants in the US. Accordingly, he was well-versed with the living styles and capturing methods of fire ants, and he commented, “We were able to deal with the need for inspection in Okinawa.” Having installed 510 plots of 20 meter times 20 meter squares with fire ants attractants for the survey, they had thoroughly planned for the investigation.
On the 1st day of the survey, 40 people from the University of the Ryukyus, OIST, and Naha Port Management Union, etc gathered. They were divided into 12 teams with three member each including one who can identify ants species. In spite of scorching heat with the sun, the all-out survey went more smoothly than expected, and on 21st, they had confirmed that there was no fire ants confirmed.
Ono from Nature and Environment Office in Naha commented, “Monitoring in Okinawa with many ants researchers is the top in Japan. We are going to continue our through monitoring.”