HONOLULU, Hawaii – Bromeliads – the monocot flowering plants that are popular in Hawaii – are being removed from planters along the H-1 Freeway near the Honolulu International Airport starting on July 24. The state is concerned the plants may help to spread a certain type of mosquito that can be a transmitter of dengue fever.
“Although the bromeliads helped to beautify the freeway near the airport, DOT is following the DOH’s recommendation to remove the plants. We have been advised that without the bromeliads, the freeway acts as a barrier to stop the spread of mosquitoes and any disease they may be carrying,” said Department of Transportation Director Glenn M. Okimoto.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito was recently found at the Honolulu International Airport, raising concerns that dengue fever could be following in the insect’s wake. Many bromeliads hold a reservoir of water at their center which can become a breeding ground for mosquitos.
“Four times in the last year, DOH has discovered the dengue fever mosquito at the airport,” said Gary Gill, DOH deputy director of environmental health, in a media release. “This mosquito has not been found on Oahu for more than half a century. We need to take action now to prevent the Aedes aegypti from breeding and spreading to the rest of the island.”
The DOT is working with the state Department of Health to remove the plants. Last year, The health department recommended measures to mitigate the spread of the mosqutio; things like trimming back trees, plants, and vegetation, reducing standing water, and working with airport vendors to reduce or eliminate areas where mosquitoes may breed.
Bromeliads are also popular on Hawaii Island. There has been no indication that there will be any similar action taken on the Big Island, however.
One lane on the H-1 Freeway eastbound is scheduled to be closed from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. for the next several days because of the removal.