MISC’s Early Detection team, Forest and Kim Starr, identify the ants collected by staff and submitted by the public. In the process of sorting ants, the Starrs found two ant species not previously detected on Maui or Molokai, Pseudomyrmex gracilis (Mexican twig ant) and Solenopsis abdita. These species may have been present for many years but went undetected because few people were out looking. The Starrs submitted voucher specimens to the University of Hawai‘i Insect Museum and the records will be published in the Bishop Museum’s Occasional Papers series. Surveys conducted at the Kahului airport as part of the statewide Māmalu Poepoe project detected no coconut rhinoceros beetles, little fire ants, Africanized honeybees, or honeybee pests such as varroa mite. No news can be good news!
Additional new detections by the Early Detection team included Salvia hispanica (chia) in the wild in the Piʻiholo area, – a new state record as this plant has not been found growing in the wild before – and Celosia argentea (cockscomb) from the side of ʻĪao Stream – a new island record. The team sent the names of these new species to the Hawaiʻi Public Weed Risk Assessment program to determine potential invasiveness. The vouchers will be housed at Bishop Museum to confirm the identity and provide a reference for future researchers. Additionally, the records will be published in the Bishop Museum Occasional Papers to keep the records of Hawaiian flora up to date.
The Early Detection team also maintains Hawaiʻi Plant and Insect ID sites on Flickr where they provide free identifications to conservation professionals and the public. Over the last quarter, they identified 40 plant and 21 insect species.