Oahu still after Coqui

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

WAIMANALO (HawaiiNewsNow) - The coqui frog is tiny and tenacious. Its call in the wild has been heard all over Oahu.

"There are a few sites on Oahu where they're currently established. We're working on that. I think there are three in Waimanalo and one in Hawaii Kai," Neil Reimer said.

He runs the state's Plant and Pest Control Branch. He said between June 2010 and June 2011, inspectors located and eradicated coqui in 70 different areas of the island.

So far infestations have been manageable.

"The numbers are small. It can be eradicated in isolated areas," nursery farmer Cliff Migita said.

Migita is president of the Waimanalo Agriculture Association, an ally in Oahu's coqui eradication efforts. Members regularly make coqui patrols, looking and listening for the frog at dozens of plant nurseries on that side of the island.

"When they do hear frogs, they contact us," Reimer said. "We can go out there and help them clean up their problem."

"We've worked with the Dept. of Agriculture. But a lot of times we go out at night. There's a handful of us that are experts at catching frogs," Migita said.

The coqui isn't a physical threat to plants or Hawaii's wildlife. But the frog's loud mating call and population boom have landed it on the list of the world's 100 worst invasive species.

Several treatments have been used to kill coqui. Citric acid works best.

But Reimer said resources for the coqui war are dwindling. Funding is limited and the number of plant and pest control inspectors has been reduced from a high of ten to three.

"So, essentially, we've got three people that are protecting Oahu right now from this invasion of coqui coming in," he said.

Since coqui have overrun the Big Island, the state's urging Oahu nurseries to be extra careful and extra vigilant when ordering and inspecting plants that come from there.

"The Koolau mountains is right there in the background. Once it gets up there it'll be very difficult to eradicate," Migita said.

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