Oahu Scientists Spraying Coqui Frogs in Summer

William Short
William Short
Rachel Neville
Rachel Neville

WAHIAWA (KHNL)- The coqui frog breeding season is just around the corner and if you haven't heard the noise of those little amphibians, consider yourself lucky. There was a small frog population on Oahu that was at one point out of control.

A group of scientists is working hard to keep the frogs out of Oahu. A government partnership called the "Coqui Working Group" sprayed the area with citrc acid for the past two summers to kill the frogs. It's worked, and they believe there's only one left. The group is going back in April to spray for what it hopes to be a final summer. The group sprays in the dry summer months because that's when the frogs breed.

There was a loud population of hundreds of calling coqui frogs in a residential Wahiawa neighborhood next to Schofield Barracks East Range. CWG has been monitoring and treating the area systematically for two years. Only one persistent frog has been heard since September 2006.

Anyone who thinks they hear a coqui frog should call the pest hotline at 643-PEST (7378).

The coqui working group (CWG) includes:

  • O'ahu Invasive Species Committee (www.oahuisc.org)
  • Hawaii Department of Agriculture
  • DLNR/Division of Forestry and Wildlife
  • Oahu Army Natural Resources Program
  • City and County of Honolulu
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The noisy call of the coqui frog disturbs Hawaii Island residents so much they spend their own time and money trying to get rid of them. On O'ahu, the CWG is eradicating coqui frog before they become an island-wide nuisance.

Status on O'ahu:

Coqui frogs travel to O'ahu in plants from coqui-infested areas. The CWG responds to reports of coqui from all over the island in order to catch the frogs before they can reproduce. Anyone who think they hear a coqui frog can call 643-PEST.

Coqui Strategy for 2007:

A combination of blanket drenches as well as spot sprays will be employed in systematic coverage of Wahiawa. The Coqui Frog Working Group will concentrate more on monitoring larger areas and adjacent residential neighborhoods to detect remaining frogs.

Blanket coverage using a ground drench will be employed in sections where calling was most prominent in 2006. Spot sprays will be employed in other areas. Citric acid, a common food additive, is used to kill coqui frogs.

About Coqui:

The coqui frog, eleutherodactylus coqui, was accidentally introduced into Hawai'i in about 1988. They are native to Puerto Rico. Male coqui frogs attract mates with a loud piercing two-note call. They do this from sundown to sunup. Coqui choruses are so loud that Hawaii Island residents complain that at night, they can no longer watch television with the windows open, talk on the telephone, or sleep. In 2005, Pacific Business News reported that the presence of coqui frogs was starting to be required information on real estate disclosure forms.

The frogs are voracious insect eaters, putting pressure on already threatened native insect populations, including native plant pollinators, and swallowing the prey base of the endangered 'elepaio. The frogs may increase populations of already established invasives such as rats and mongoose, allowing the predators to reach even higher densities. They may also serve as a potential food source for snakes.