The Silence of the Coqui

Vickie Kibler shows off her coqui frog collection at the August KDOC meeting.Although coqui frogs have perfect attendance over the past several years at the Kona Daifukuji Orchid Club’s monthly meetings, they are still not welcome guests on the west side of the Big Island.

From orchid growers to coffee farmers, all residents would like their quiet nights back. Vickie Kibler discussed this rapidly spreading epidemic at the August 13 KDOC meeting.

“Here in Hawaii, all frogs are bad,” Kibler started off by saying, “but coquis are spreading out of control. They are getting bigger. And they are bad for more reasons than just the noise.”
Coqui frogs were brought to Hawaii from Puerto Rico, allegedly by a “scientist” in Kaloko, as a way to combat mosquitoes. Sound familiar? Yeah, like how mongoose were brought in to take care of the rats. We all know that worked well.

Naturally, the coquis weren’t too interested in our mosquitoes. They were, however, interested in making a ton of noise. And they are spreading like the plague because their natural predators are tarantulas and snakes. (So maybe we will be importing those next, eh?)

“In Hawaii, people are the coqui’s only known predator,” Kibler stressed.
Citric acid is the only state-approved material for battling the coqui frogs, but baking soda is also a popular solution. In fact, Kibler said she prefers baking soda.

IMG_3164 “Very effective, works as well as citric acid,” she said. “Baking soda is better because it lasts longer. It basically good until it rains, whereas citric acid is only good until it dries.”
Baking soda is also the cheapest means – a large bag at CostCo costs $6.86.

However, the state doesn’t officially recommend baking soda because it is not a “pesticide”. Because of this, you can’t use baking soda ‘for hire.’ For example, if you pay someone to spray your property, they cannot as a state-liscened perfesionally legally spray baking soda, they can only spray citric acid. But you are free to spray baking soda on your own property, or elsewhere so long as you aren’t accepting money for it.

“Citric acid and baking soda will both will burn and or kill bromeliads, grass, ferns, and pakalolo,” Kibler noted on spraying landscape plants. “However, I have seen them all grow back after a while. But if you are treating any plant and are not sure if it will be affected, apply and then rinse minimum 3 hours after application.”

Female coqui are generally located from the ground level up to two feet. They love dead leaves and brush, as well as rock walls. They emit noises that resemble more of a chirp. Male coquis can go up higher, which they generally do at night to send off their mating call, the repeated ‘ko-KEE-ko-KEE’ that we all know so well.

Coquis will often emit a lone whistle (resembling a single ‘ko’ from the ko-KEE call) which the frogs use to communicate with each other as a means of establishing their territory. The single whistle is a ‘hey, how are you?’ in coqui-speak.

When you catch a coqui frog, the state of Hawaii recommends putting it in the freezer for 48 hours. Vickie puts her frogs in empty water bottles, and then puts the bottle in the freezer. For combat, she made a modified leaf blower (using a custom adapter made by Butch Porter) for soaking trees and brush with baking soda.

This entry was posted in News and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.