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DLNR News Release-Rapid Response Underway to Stop Tiny, Invasive Insect, Feb. 15, 2019

Posted on Feb 15, 2019 in Latest Department News

(Editors note-please see associated news release to follow shortly)

(Honolulu) – When Daniel Kapalikūokalani-Maile posted on Facebook last November that something was killing native naio trees in the Kapalama/Kalihi area, it prompted a rapid response from state and federal agencies and organizations.

Entomologists from the Hawai‘i Dept. of Agriculture (HDOA) confirmed that the tiny insect is the Myoporum thrips, an invasive species which has devastated naio forests on Hawai‘i island. This was the first detection ever on O‘ahu. Naio is an important part of O‘ahu’s coastal ecosystems and are popular as ornamentals in landscaping.

A quick response was mounted, thanks in great part to an Early Detection and Rapid Response Plan. In 2014 the Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council (HISC) provided funding to DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) to draft the plan in cooperation with HDOA and O‘ahu Invasive Species Committee (OISC). Meetings to address the infestation included representatives from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, O‘ahu Army Natural Resources Program, Bishop Museum, Honolulu City & County Botanical Gardens, the Honolulu Zoo, Kamehameha Schools, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, O‘ahu Invasive Species Committee (OISC) and several private citizens. They each surveyed naio on lands under their control and OISC surveyed other properties.

Of the 619 plants surveyed, only 42 showed signs of Myoporum thrips at ten different locations around O‘ahu. Seven locations have been treated which includes cutting down infested trees, spraying them with insect killing soap, tarping them, and then disposing them away from the property. Yesterday, DOFAW and OISC crews with the help from a couple of university interns finished removing 10 trees from the Honolulu Forest Reserve in the Moanalua area.

This rapid response coupled with help from people who grow naio will hopefully prevent further spread.  The O‘ahu Invasive Species Committee is asking for anyone who knows about naio growing anywhere on the island to report it. GPS points and photographs are very helpful. Additionally, they’re looking for people willing to adopt trees and check them periodically for the presence of thrips. The insects are narrow, dark brown to black and approximately 2-2.5 mm in size.  Damage on the plant is likely to be more visible than the thrips themselves.

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(All video/photos courtesy: DLNR)

HD video-Honolulu Forest Reserve treatment (2-14-19):

Photographs-Honolulu Forest Reserve treatment (2-14-19):

Photographs-Myoporum thrips and naio damage – (Courtesy O‘ahu Invasive Species Committee):

To report naio trees:

[email protected]

(808) 286-4616


To volunteer to monitor:

[email protected]




Media Contact:

Dan Dennison

Senior Communications Manager

(808) 587-0396

[email protected]