Slow Press – March 21, 2024

Little Red Fire Ants! What to do? Don’t wait for the state!

Little red fire ants. You’ve heard of them, because their sting is epic. Maybe you’re thinking they’re out there, on Hawaiʻi island or somewhere—and someone else’s problem. That illusion was burst in our Maunawili neighborhood recently when little red fire ants (LRFA) were discovered at several homes. 

The LFRA is a particularly nasty invasive insect: They’re tiny (about as big as the tip of a pen), but the painful stings create welts that can last for weeks. The ants also attack animals, including cats, dogs, birds, and even baby sea turtles—sometimes blinding their victims. They nest in trees and forage on the ground. The infestations can render yards and farms unusable. Fortunately, unlike the uncontrollable coconut rhinoceros beetle, LFRA can be eradicated, but only through a year of repeated treatment. If we care about local agriculture, we need to be proactive in preventing the spread of LRFA. 

Image of penny with little red fire ant
The little red fire ant is about the width of a penny in size.
Pustules resulting from fire ant stings.
Photo: Murray S. Blum, The University of Georgia,

If you’ve been following the news, you know the state Department of Agriculture has little money to deal with this issue. Meanwhile, LRFA is being introduced around the island through plants transported from the island of Hawaiʻi (where the LRFA is rife) and sold in local nurseries. 

At least one Waimānalo nursery has been spreading the ant knowingly. The Department of Agriculture will not reveal the name of this nursery, which then makes every nursery in Waimānalo suspect, hurting those that are being responsible.

When our neighborhood learned of the local infestations, we decided to mobilize. Our hui of five neighbors got LRFA test kits in bulk from the Oʻahu Invasive Species Committee (OISC). These included stamped envelopes for returning the test samples for identification. In addition, the OISC outreach coordinator, Erin Bishop, came to talk to us about the procedures and issues involved with the identification and eradication of LRFA. She created a map of the ‘hood and we divvied up the streets so that each hui member would visit a number of houses.

As a result of our efforts, two more areas in our neighborhood were discovered to have the ant, and we are now helping the OISC get permission to survey and treat the infected yards.

If you know your neighborhood has had an infestation, consider forming a group that will reach out, educate others, and distribute ant test kits. Because of the lack of sufficient state funding, we need to pitch in, not wait on help that may come too late.

Currently, active sites of LRFA are in Ahuimanu, Aina Haina, Hauʻula, Kaʻelepulu, Kahala, Kaneohe, Kualoa Ranch, Laʻie, Lanikai, Makiki Heights, Makiki Lower, Mililani Mauka, Papakolea, Pearl City, Waiheʻe, Waiāhole, and Waimānalo. If you live in one of these areas, contact OISC and help to contain the ant. Their number is 808-266-7994, and their email is More information is available online at

Slow Food Oʻahu Hawaiian Coffee Tasting & Brewing – April 21, 2024, 10:00 a.m. to noon

Meet Dr. Coffee—no, really! Shawn Steiman has a Ph.D. in coffee from the University of Hawaiʻi College of Tropical Agriculture. He has been a fixture on the local coffee scene for many years and is one of the most knowledgeable sources worldwide on coffees grown in Hawaiʻi.

For this event, Shawn will brew four Hawaiian coffees for the group to taste and discuss. He’ll talk about coffee quality, the Hawaiʻi coffee industry, and the specific coffee varieties being sampled. He’ll offer some tips on brewing, covering the three major categories of brew methods: percolation, full immersion, and pressure-assisted. Then he’ll open the discussion for Q&A so you can ask those burning coffee questions that have been brewing. 

Photo of Shawn Steiman talking
Dr. Coffee expounding on the various types of coffee brewing techniques.

A little more about Shawn: He is a coffee scientist, consultant, and entrepreneur. His coffee research has included coffee production, pest management, ecology, physiology, biochemistry, organoleptic quality, and brewing. He owns Coffea Consulting, a coffee-centric consulting firm, and Grok Coffee, a coffee delivery, event, and education company. He has authored numerous articles in scientific journals, trade magazines, newsletters, and newspapers. He is the author of three books on coffee.

The cost is $20 for members and $25 for non-members. All tickets will be sold on Square at the non-member price. Members will be rebated their $5 discounts at the beginning of the event.

This workshop will be held in a private home in Kahala. Location details will be sent out 48 hours in advance.

Slow Food Oʻahu Chinatown Food Tour – April 14, 2024   9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

  • Join us on an exciting Slow Food Chinatown Tour. We’ll explore the history, culture, and food traditions of Honolulu’s Chinatown.
  • Shop colorful markets to learn about seafood, fresh produce, and traditional foods.
  • Visit bakeries, noodle factories, specialty shops, temples, and historic sites.
  • Sample local foods such as poke, look fun, manapua, and tropical fruits.
  • Bring your shopping bags so you can buy fresh produce, baked goods, and specialty products to enjoy at home after the tour. 
Yat Tung Chow is one of the few remaining wheat noodle factories in Hawaiʻi. 

The meeting location and suggestions for parking will be emailed to ticket-holders 48 hours before the tour. Please note: We keep this tour limited to eight participants to ensure an intimate experience and avoid blocking already crowded sidewalks and markets, but we also need to set a minimum of five participants to ensure that our volunteer tour leaders’ efforts are used to good advantage. If we don’t fill the minimum, we will offer full refunds and alert ticket holders to other upcoming tours. Thanks for your understanding.

The cost is $30 for members and $40 for non-members, which includes the price of tastings along the tour. All tickets will be sold on Square at the non-member price. The tour leader will rebate members $10 at the beginning of the tour.

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