Skip to comments.Hawaiians fed up with [Puerto Rican]frogs
Posted on 12/29/2011 5:56:17 AM PST by cll
The coqui is a tiny, coin-sized frog whose distinctive nightly mating calls are a beloved sound in Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands. But people in Hawaii dont share the same sentiment.
The frogs have been growing in population in the state in recent years and are now starting to show up in larger numbers on Oahu home to most of the states population. The frogs already have a strong foothold on the less-populated Big Island, and people there complain of being kept awake at night with a thunderous roar of chirps as thousands of male coqui simultaneously summon partners a mating chorus some say can be as loud as a jet airplane.
The frogs are also preventing the states plant nurseries from exporting to some markets and depressing some Big Island property values. The frogs arent stopping tourists from visiting, but theres a fear they could if they spread further.
There have been as many reports of coqui on Oahu in 2011 as the seven previous years combined, said Derek Arakaki, who helps hunt coqui frogs for the state Department of Agriculture. Before, Arakaki and two others on the coqui-eradication team would head out to capture the frogs on Oahu once a month or maybe twice a month. This year, there have been times when theyve had to go coqui hunting twice a week.
The frogs are a significant problem in their nonnative Hawaii because the state has no natural predators to stop their advance. As a result, they have spread quickly through the lush forests and yards near Hilo since they were accidentally introduced to the Big Island in the 1990s. They have been making a steady advance into the more heavily populated Oahu in recent years, sneaking onto the island on plants and stowing away in cars, piles of lumber, cargo pallets and whatever else thats being sent to Honolulu.
Compared to the amount thats on the Big Island, very few are actually getting through, said Carol Okada, an Agriculture Department plant quarantine manager who heads the states efforts to control invasive species. But the amount thats getting through is still enough to establish a population, so we are still very concerned.
Coqui, which get their name because of their ko-kee chirps, are showing up in diverse places: The International Marketplace outdoor bazaar in the heart of Waikiki, the states tourist mecca. Near a banyan tree in front of a multiplex theater. Seven coqui were found in a home in the upscale Diamond Head neighborhood. The residents had brought back some plants from the Big Island not knowing they needed to be inspected for coqui before shipping them to Oahu.
Coqui-eradication team members spot them by mimicking their mating call, which prompts the frogs to call back. They home in on the sound and trap the frogs with a clear tube. Sometimes, theyll spray water to entice the frog to sing.
In a few cases, the coqui team has found so many frogs theyve had to kill them with citric acid, the preferred chemical for eradicating the frogs.
That was the case in the rural windward Oahu town of Hauula, where coqui had spread out across several homes and a city park. Residents there heard nocturnal chirping but didnt call the states pest control hotline because they thought birds were making the sounds. By the time the authorities were notified, the frogs had been around and breeding for two years. It took the crew several months to get rid of the infestation.
The problem is only made worse by recession-induced budget cuts that forced the state to slash the number of cargo inspectors from 95 to 50.
This caused the Agriculture Department to prioritize checking out-of-state cargo.
Okada said the state will have to capture more pests that get through because there havent been enough people to spot them at the ports.
When youre not at the front end, you end up chasing it on the back end, Okada said.
The state has had this problem with snakes, which could wipe out Hawaiis native endangered bird species if they ever became established here. A dozen from boa constrictors to ball pythons have been either captured or turned in to authorities since July.
Theres a reason why all the snakes are coming out this year. Were not out in force anymore, Okada said.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie enabled the state to hire 10 more people to bring the inspector count close to 60, but Okada said theyre still far short of where they need to be to effectively intercept pests entering Hawaii or traveling inter-island.
Okada said one scary thing about this last year was that many coqui were found closer to the base of Oahus heavily forested mountains. The coqui population could explode if they started breeding somewhere like the back part of Manoa valley, where it frequently rains.
Puerto Rico Ping! Please Freepmail me if you want on or off the list.
Us Puerto Ricans are EVERYWHERE!!
All the more reason to support global climate changes... amphibians die first.
I just listened to one on youtube. I agree it could be annoying in large numbers. What eats them in Puerto Rico? I’m guessing snakes which, of course, they don’t want to import to Hawaii. Somehow though I’m picturing all the rich folks in solid air conditioned homes in Hawaii complaining because when they go out on their patio, there are a few frogs creeking. In Kansas we have tree frogs and locusts which make a racket but we are used to it.
Strength in diversity
Coquis are very difficult to find, in spite of their loud noise. Birds, snakes and big spiders are its main predators.
I was stationed in Roosevelt Roads for three years while in the Navy. I enjoyed hearing them on warm, tropical evening walks. The sound is in no way oppressive nor is it particularly loud. However, I don’t know enough about them to know if they are destructive or not. There didn’t seem to be many problems with them in PR. As a matter of fact, Puerto Ricans viewed them fondly as a charm of island life. I agree.
As another FReeper pointed out, snakes are one of the predators. When I was a child (Navy brat), they were worse some years, not so bad on others. There was a cycle of rat/snake/mongoose on the island. The years the snakes were thriving were the quietest.
Nowhere in this article does it say whether the frogs are destructive or not. As I understand it, the major concern with invasive species is destruction of native species and habitat.
The problem is no nstural predator. Hawaii is snake free. They need to import some kind of small snake which can eat frogs but doesn’t get parge enough to eat birds. I’d suggest they check the snake fauna of Puerto Rico as a start.
They eat insects. The “problem” is probably more in the perception of herpetophobes than in the reality.
Here in the northeast, we have Spring Peepers which do much the same thing, cicadas in summer and katydids in tthe fall. I like the sounds of them calling. It sounds better than blaring radios, steetcars, etc.
Are those the ones that sound like an alarm is beeping? I remember those in Jamaica.
The sound is like a whistle with a cadence that sounds like its name: Ko-kee.
We have coquis here in Panama. They are cute and fun to hear.
I don’t know what the big fuss is about. Probably nothing better to do.
I rented a house on the Big Island once which had these frogs all over. Very little sleep for the week because they are loud and non stop. It is a “big deal” if your property is overrun with these invaders.
It could be that we have other little nightlife critters that also make similar sounds and others that chirp all night.
I was raised here; and hence these things dont annoy or bother me. I find them pleasant. But then again, I was born here.
On the other hand, it is the manmade noises that really set me off loud radios, TVs, loud parties, etc.
If you are not use to these jungle noises, I can understand.
yes, they are all over Jamaica as well.
We used to have frogs, back when it rained.
What would Andrew Zimmern do?
I have friends on the Big Island and when I call them on the phone the frog noise is unbelievable loud. It’s much worse than in PR because there are no predators. It drives people insane. The Big Island has plenty of poor and middle class people with no air conditioning. I lived in HI for years and never had a/c. I didn’t even know anyone with a/c.
The frogs are horrible. It’s not like a few. It’s gazillions of them and people can’t even sleep. It’s like a horror movie. When I lived there the frogs hadn’t arrived yet.
Puerto Rican Frenchmen are everywhere.