Workshop at Yokatsu High School(Dec 2021)

We held a the workshop “The Biodiversity Around Us and Invasive Species, -Can You Recognize Fire Ants ?” at Okinawa Prefectural Yokatsu High School. This workshop was developed for the general public above high school students age, but with the COVID-19 disaster making it more difficult to hold general events, it has recently been conducted more often as a special classes at high schools. For students, classes taught by our outside instructors may be a little nerve-wracking because of the unusual way.

Special Lecture at the Meeting of the Kyushu-Okinawa Insect Research Society and the Kyushu Branch of the Lepidopterological Society of Japan (December 2021)

Section Leader Yoshimura gave a presentation on the OKEON Churamori Project and our efforts to date at the meeting of the Kyushu-Okinawa Insect Research Society and the Kyushu Branch of Lepidopterological Society of Japan. The OKEON Churamori Project began with its conception in 2014, followed by the launch a biodiversity monitoring network across the island of Okinawa in 2015 and continues to this day. To date, the project has developed not only as an academic project, but has also deepened its relationship with Okinawan society in a variety of ways.

Discussion at OIST Science Talk (November 2021)

Section Leader Yoshimura had a discussion with Hiromi Kamikaiji, a nature guide from Endemic Garden H, at the OIST Science Talk held at the Junkudo bookstore in Naha. Endemic Garden H is a company that provides sightseeing and guided tours of nature and lifestyle in Yambaru. The theme of this talk was about invasive species. Our section’s research on invasive ants is focused on waterfront measures around ports and parks, while theirs is conservation activities in the Yambaru area, recently registered as a World Natural Heritage site.

Fire ant identification training 2021(November 2021) In Ishigaki (Nov. 11), Miyako (Nov. 12) and Naha (Nov. 15)

Fire ant identification training for administrative officers and port businesses has become an annual event. As in previous years, Section Leader Yoshi was the instructor for the workshops, which were held on Ishigaki Island, Miyako Island, and Okinawa Island. The local health center is one of the main points of contact for reporting fire ants, but the staff in charge changes every few years. Therefore, it is important to repeat the training every year in case of a sudden fire ant infestation.

Lectures and practical training at “Ryudai Science Campus”(July 2021)

Section Leader Yoshimura gave a lecture at “Ryudai [University of the Ryukyus] Science Campus”, an education program for high school students in Okinawa Prefecture. The theme was "OKEON Churamori Project: Regional Collaboration through Environmental Research Aimed at Solving Problems in Okinawa”. After listening to the lecture, the students actually went outside to collect ants, then returned inside to sort the ants they had collected. All students who participated were very enthusiastic and made more achievements than we expected.

Participating in an acorn survey conducted by Dr. Kodaka for Hentona High School students (October 2021)


Dr. Nobuhiko Kodaka of the Kyushu Research Center of Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute came to Okinawa to teach methods for surveying acorn abundance to students at Okinawa Prefectural Hentona High School, and we joined the survey. Acorns are an important food source for the wild animals inhabiting Yanbaru. By monitoring whether the acorn harvest was good or bad, we can get indicators of the state of biodiversity in the Yanbaru forest. Dr. Kodaka also prepared easy-to-understand guidance materials, which we found very informative.

HAPPY EARTH FESTA 2021(September 2021)

Section Leader Yoshimura was invited as a guest to a dialogue titled “HAPPY EARTH - Sustainable Natural Resource Conservation”. The SDGs weeklong event ”HAPPY EARTH FESTA 2021“ was scheduled in Okinawa, but unfortunately due to the spread of the COVID-19, it had to be mainly held online. However, as the registration of the Amami Okinawa World Natural Heritage site was completed just before the event, the timing was perfect to commemorate this occassion. 

Online Agreement of Cooperation Ceremony for Conservation and Management of World Natural Heritage Sites in Northern Okinawa and Iriomote Island (August 2022)

An agreement of cooperation ceremony for World Natural Heritage Sites was held online due to the prevalence of COVID-19. Two parts of Okinawa prefecture were registered as World Heritage sites: the Yambaru area of northern Okinawa Island and Iriomote Island. Our challenge for the future is to maintain and manage the proper balance between conservation and land use in these areas. To this end, it is necessary to understand the current situation and establish future guidelines. Moreover, the accumulation of research findings that serve as basic information is indispensable.

Entomology Training conducted at the University of the Ryukyus (July 2021)

We were invited again this year to conduct entomology training for undergraduates at the University of the Ryukyus, which has recently become an annual event. All of the students were entomology majors and had a high level of knowledge about insects, which made the field staff a bit nervous to lead the sorting of the SLAM trap samples, but we used the experience we’ve gained in the OKEON project to serve as instructors. One of the lecturers, Prof. Yoshida, gave a talk on entomology that was backed by an overwhelming amount of knowledge, and the students listened with great interest.

Kenmin no Mori (Prefectural Citizens’ Forest) Operations Committee (July 2021)

One of the research sites of the OKEON Churamori Project is located in the Kenmin-no-Mori (Prefectural Citizen’s Forest) park in Onna Village, and therefore, Section Leader Yoshimura is a member of the park’s Management Committee. We think it would be wonderful if Kenmin no Mori could contribute to Okinawa Prefecture's 21st Century Vision, the Okinawa Biodiversity Strategy, and the Okinawa SDGs, and be used as a base for practicing biodiversity conservation and sustainable use.

Ant mini-exhibit “Little Aliens” at Okinawa Prefectural Museum and Art Museum (July 2021)

We organized a small exhibit at the entrance of the Okinawa Prefectural Museum and Art Museum called “Little Aliens〜The Little Invaders Lurking in Okinawa”. This exhibit was part of the special exhibition “Evolution for Everyone” hosted by the Museum.We displayed panels that explained the evolution and ecology of alien ants and our efforts to control them in Okinawa, ant specimens collected in the OKEON Churamori project, and 3D ant models. Unfortunately, few people were able to see this exhibit because it was closed following the declaration of a state of emergency due to COVID-19.

Construction coordination meeting was held for the control of alien ants (May 2021)

Among the research projects on alien invasive ants we are working on at the environmental section, we are currently focusing on control of the browsing ant, Lepisiota frauenfeldi, which has already established along the national highway in Naha. In addition to researching effective methods and techniques to control this species, we need to collaborate and cooperate with various institutions outside the university.

Field training for time-unit sampling survey (April 2021)

We implement insect surveys for the OKEON Churamori Project. These surveys typically collect insects using SLAM traps, tent-like structures used for trapping insects, and time-unit sampling. Although SLAM traps can be used to collect a wide variety of insects over a long period of time, they require much labor in terms of cost, management, and sample processing. In contrast, the time-unit sampling method targets only ants, but it has advantage that a variety of people, from high school students to researchers, can conduct the surveys efficiently and flexibly.

Lecture at Shimpo Hall, Ryukyu Shimpo Headquarters (5th February 2021)

Title: "Leading efforts for SDGs by Educational and Research Institutions in Okinawa Prefecture "    ~Connecting Research Results to Business Opportunities to Solve Local Issues~      Organized by: OKINAWA SDGs Project (OSP), Ryukyu Shimpo   Supported by: OIST, University of the Ryukyus, and National Institute of Technology, Okinawa College

We took up the challenge to organize an Online Science café during OIST’s Science Festa (January 2021)

Every year, crowds of people come to the Science Festa, the largest open community event held by OIST. However, the openings of nearly all public events have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Science Festa was no exception. As an alternative, Section Leader Yoshimura took up the challenge of organizing the first “Online Science Café”. The theme centered on ants and other invasive species in Okinawa. As this was our first time doing this, we were a bit out of our element, but ultimately many people tuned in to participate and the event was a success.


Science workshop held at Hentona High School (January 2021)

We held a science workshop for high school students and above on "The Biodiversity Around Us and Invasive Species". This program was for the students of Hentona High School, which is one of the schools participating in the OKEON Churamori Project’s prefectural high school collaborative ant research program. Additionally, this school had allowed us to install ant traps to collect data as one of the 24 OKEON monitoring sites. One hour after the lecture during break-time, we showed the students the actual equipment we use and were able to tell them a lot about our research.

Yoshi gave a lecture at the education program “Ryudai Kagakuin”. (2020/11)

Section Leader Yoshi gave a lecture at "Ryudai Kagakuin (", an education program sponsored by the University of the Ryukyus and aimed at high school students with outstanding motivation and abilities in the field of science.

During the lecture, we introduced the OKEON Churamori Project and the invasive ant countermeasure project we are implementing in Okinawa.

We visited Shuri High School to conduct a joint ant survey with the students. (2020/11)

The OKEON Churamori Project has conducted joint research with the high school in the form of ant surveys guided by club and exploration activities. This research usually focuses on interactions with instructors, and each high school designs and works on its own research. Shuri High School is located near Shuri Castle Park in the center of Naha City. We all wonder what kinds of ants live near this historic monument. It had not been long since this joint research began, so we thought this was a good opportunity to conduct a field survey together.


The first record of Argentine ants Linepithema humile (Mayr, 1868) in Okinawa (March 2021)

A report of Argentine ants found in a container yard at Naha Port has been published in the Journal of the Biological Society of Okinawa. This is the first record of this species in Okinawa Prefecture. This paper is the result of a cross-organizational collaboration between our own researchers, the Naha Port Management Association, and emergency control and survey professionals.

Conclusion of Agreement with Okinawa City Board of Education (November 2020)

With the cooperation between the OKEON Churamori Project and the Okinawa City Local Museum at its core, OIST and the Okinawa City Board of Education have concluded their cooperative agreement concerning nature history research and education. Although we lacked knowledge and found ourselves fumbling at the onset of the agreement, the Okinawa City Local Museum shared with us their know-how and helped us broaden our local network. Since then, we have been able to organize collaborative exhibits and lectures with the Museum, whose experts have worked side-by-side with us the entire time.

Meeting for Fire Ant Stakeholders at Ishigaki City (November 2020)

At Ishigaki City, Section Leader Yoshimura gave a lecture on fire ant identification training organized by the Okinawa Prefectural Government for administrative and port officials. The Ministry of the Environment also held a fire ant control meeting for stakeholders in the Yaeyama region, which Yoshimura continued to attend. Although news about the spread of COVID-19 may have overshadowed any news about invasive ants, it is nonetheless important to continue taking proactive measures.

Onna Village Museum Exhibition Committee (October 2020)

In Onna Village, where OIST is located, there is an institution called the Onna Village Museum. The museum stands alongside Onna-no-eki, a popular roadside attraction with restaurants and tourist shops, with a large parking lot and free admission for village residents. Currently, the museum mainly focuses on anthropological and archaeological exhibits, but there is a plan to enhance the natural history exhibits in the future. Section Leader Yoshimura was appointed as one of the committee members to review this plan.

Okinawa Prefectural Koyo High School SSH Steering Committee (October 2020)

The OKEON Churamori Project collaborates with high schools in Okinawa Prefecture on ant research. Okinawa Prefectural Koyo High School, the second school in the prefecture to be designated as a Super Science High School (SSH), is one of the schools involved in this research collaboration. Through this collaboration, Section Leader Yoshimura has been involved as one of the steering committee members since last year.

Camera traps replaced (October 2020)

In the OKEON Churamori Project's camera trap network, a total of 47 cameras have been installed at 24 core sites set up throughout the main island of Okinawa for continuous wildlife observation. The operating conditions are harsh: Okinawa’s blistering sun, storms with the strength of typhoons, and occasional equipment invasions by ants. It is thus necessary to update the equipment every few years, but the model we had been using was discontinued by the manufacturer and is no longer available.

Entomology Training at the University of the Ryukyus (September 2020)

The entomology training we lead for undergraduates at the University of the Ryukyus has become an annual event. This year, although the situation was doubtful due to the pandemic, we were able to shorten it and conduct the training anyway. We were thus able to educate the students by having them observe the monitoring equipment and handle actual insect specimens, which would have been difficult to convey online. Although our time together was short, we are glad we were able to conduct the training in-person.

Beginning control of the browsing ant (August 2020)

The alien species Lepisiota frauenfeldi, commonly known as the “browsing ant”, was confirmed to be established in Naha City, and a call by OIST’s Okinawa Environmental Research Support Section led to a cross-organizational collaboration between the City, Sumika Environmental Corporation, and the University of the Ryukyus that has begun control measures. Since around 2017, when fire ants were discovered in mainland Japan, several organizations including research institutes and government agencies have been working together to monitor for alien ants in Okinawa Prefecture.

Participation in the Okinawa Municipal Museum Council (July 2020)

The Okinawa Municipal Museum Council met on July 13, 2020, and this year Section Leader Yoshimura was appointed as a member of the council. The Okinawa Municipal Museum is a community-based institution with a full staff of specialized curators, and has been a great help to us since the start of the OKEON Churamori Project. As a member of the council, Yoshimura will do his best to return the favor.

Science workshop "The Biodiversity Around Us and Invasive Species" was held at Okinawa Prefectural Library

On Sunday, September 22, 2019, a science workshop "The Biodiversity Around Us and Invasive Species " was held at the Okinawa Prefectural Library in Naha City.
Even though it was shortly after the typhoon, some participants visited the library for this event.

The book "Alien Ants", in which Yoshi authored a chapter, was published (May 2020)

The book "Alien Ants” was published, with a chapter by Yoshi from OERSS. This readable book is packed with the latest information from experts about the ant species that are currently problematic or may be problematic in the future due to their spread caused by human activities. 

Potential economic impact of the Red Imported Fire Ant Solenopsis invicta in Okinawa (May 2020)

How much economic impact would fire ants cause if they colonized and spread in Okinawa? Japan has often derived estimates from the damage reported in the United States. However, these values are likely to be inaccurate since Japan and the United States have vastly different industries, laws and other socio-economic systems. 

Okinawa Prefectural Government Invasive Species Countermeasure Committee (March 2020)

Okinawa Prefecture has an ongoing invasive species countermeasure project and the committee meets several times a year to discuss the selection of the designated target species and to create countermeasure guidelines for these species. Yoshi, from the Okinawa Environmental Research Support Section (OERSS), is a member of this committee.

Last trip to Ishigaki for the Okinawa Fire Ant Countermeasure Project (March 2020)

The Invasive Ant Countermeasure Project that was entrusted by the Okinawa Prefectural Government is nearing the end. Although there are still some loose ends to tie up, the official meeting scheduled to be held at the end of the project has been canceled due to the ongoing pandemic.

Fire ant identification training in Miyakojima (February 2020)

Yoshi from the Okinawa Environmental Research Support Section (OERSS) was invited to a fire ant identification seminar hosted by the Ministry of the Environment in Miyakojima. Using photos and specimens, he taught port managers and employees of a local health center and museum how to identify alien ants. After the lecture, we entered the container yard in Hirara Port to identify ants and discussed methods to prevent the invasion and colonization of alien ants.

A visit from a camera trap project collaborator (February 2020)

Dr. Akasaka, a collaborator of OKEON’s camera trap project, visited OIST from the Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine. We are studying the decomposition rate of the ecosystem and how this is affected by alien species and human activities.
During his visit, we discussed some preliminary results and the additional installation of cameras for the field experiments.

Fire ant control and strategy workshop (February 2020)

Professor Huang (Taiwan University), who is conducting joint research with the Okinawa Environmental Research Support Section (OIST), hosted a Workshop on Fire Ant Control and Strategy which provided an opportunity for Taiwan-based experts to discuss fire ant control strategies. Yoshi and Masako were invited from our section, and Yoshi introduced our RIFA countermeasure efforts in Okinawa.

Workshop on fire ants sponsored by Naha Port Corporation (February 2020)

Every year in Okinawa, workshops on fire ants are held for stakeholders. Yoshi, the leader of OERSS, was invited as a lecturer for one that was hosted by the Naha Port Authority. In his talk titled “How do we prepare for the day when a fire ant is found in Okinawa”, he showed how to differentiate fire ants from the ants commonly found in Okinawa. While we are currently in uncertain times due to COVID-19, the importance of continuing these efforts will remain unchanged.

New paper on “Let’s become an Ant Expert Today” (March 2020)

OKEON Churamori Project created an educational and enjoyable workshop program on alien species and fire ants aimed at Elementary school kids. This program, “Let’s become an Ant Expert Today”, has been delivered mainly by Dr. Suwabe of the Okinawa Environmental Research Support Section and has been hosted by the OKEON team throughout Okinawa since 2017 as a collaborative research project with the CoSTEP of Hokkaido University.

Invitation to the research presentation by final year students at Hentona High School (January 2020)

We were invited to the research presentation by the final year Environmental Studies students at Hentona High School. Under the guidance of Mr. Takara, who has been a collaborator to the OKEON Churamori Project since its establishment, the students have been conducting research on ants.

Advisory board Meeting (January 2020)

The FY 2019 Advisory Board Meeting for the Environment Research and Technology Development Fund, sponsored by the Ministry of the Environment of Japan, was held in Tokyo. The aim of the project, led by the University of Ryukyus, is to develop an invasive species management system using non-native ants as a model organism. OIST has been contributing to this project, along with The National Institute for Environmental Studies and Kyoto University. 

Collembola automatic counting system (2019/12)

At the beginning, we were having hard times in counting the number of insect individuals captured in SLAM traps.
The collembolan, which accounted for more than a half of the insects caught in traps, was our formidable foe.
Prof. Hidetoshi Ikeno and Graduate student Kazutoshi Goto at Graduate School of Human Science and Environment, the University of Hyogo launched a dream project to save us – the development of an automatic counting system for collembolan samples. Even after they completed the system, they kept improving. 

OERSS supported tree surveys led by OIST researchers (December 2019)

OIST researcher Dr. Juanita Choo botanized nine sites of the OKEON Churamori project.
He asked Mr. Masayuki Hayashi, Director of the Institute of Konokinannoki, for plant identification and three OERSS members assisted the field research.
Although this field research was fraught with obstacles such as winds and rains, it was conducted successfully.

Yoshi presented at the 25th Annual Meeting of the Wildlife and Society (2019/11/23)

Yoshi, the coordinator of the OKEON Churamori Project, gave a presentation entitled "A social collaboration network generates sustainability of the information diffusion of invasive ants" at the 25th Annual Meeting of the “Wildlife and Society” Society. It was a part of the theme session “The role of "Science Communicator" as a bridge between wildlife research and society” organized by our collaborator CoSTEP at Hokkaido University.

OIST Science Festival 2019 (2019/11/16)

We received 5,200 visitors, and many people enjoyed our two kinds of talk and the booth many insects were displayed.

Visit to NZ (2019/11/3-9)

New Zealand, a developed country of biosecurity, is the only country that has been successfully eradicated in spite of three RIFA discovery cases. We would like to explore that know-how. The report will be shared by the Nature Conservation Division, Environment Department, Okinawa Prefecture, so please look forward to it!

Yoshi’s lecture at the Town and Village Council Members & Officers Workshop in Okinawa Prefecture (Nov/11/2019)

Yoshi delivered a lecture on Okinawan biodiversity and fire ant countermeasures to around 410 attendees at the Okinawa Prefectural Council Members & Officers Workshop. At the social gathering following the workshop, Yoshi received many questions from the attendees. We would be happy if our activities through the “OKEON Churamori Project” are useful for future environmental policies in Okinawa.


Okinawa Environmental Research Support Section (OERSS) supported a project led by Economo Unit

A field sampling of the Economo Unit research project was conducted and field members from the Okinawa Environmental Research Support Section (OERSS) provided its support.
The Japanese bento that they ate in the field and the Okinawa-style Zenzai (sweet red bean paste over the shaved ice) that they enjoyed at the end of the hard work were also very popular with foreign researchers!

Science workshop "The Biodiversity Around Us and Invasive Species" was held at Okinawa Prefectural Library

On Sunday, September 22, 2019, a science workshop "The Biodiversity Around Us and Invasive Species " was held at the Okinawa Prefectural Library in Naha City.
Even though it was shortly after the typhoon, some participants visited the library for this event.