Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Manoa's elusive, night-shrieking coqui frog finally bagged

By Lee Cataluna
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

The coqui frog caught in Mänoa isn’t quite fully grown.

NORMAN SHAPIRO | The Honolulu Advertiser

spacer spacer


The coqui frog has a distinct two-tone call. People can listen to what a coqui sounds like and see what it looks like at www.hear.org/AlienSpeciesIHawaii/species/frogs/


Where they are: Colonies of coqui frogs have established themselves on the Big Island, with some populations on Maui and Kaua'i, a handful on Moloka'i and Lāna'i, and limited populations in parts of O'ahu.

A matter of size: The coqui frog is about the size of a quarter, but bigger ones have been found on the Big Island.

The noise problem: Where the frogs are at their thickest, they cause noise levels that have been likened to the roar of a lawn mower. Some folks in Hilo have reported they can't hear the TV or talk on the phone at night because of coqui noise.

Why it matters: Beyond the noise they can create, the frogs may endanger Hawaiian insect populations, and they compete with native birds for food.

Source: state Department of Agriculture

spacer spacer

It took a lot of trying, but the lone Mānoa coqui frog has been captured.

The presence of the coqui, known for its piercing, loud shrieks, had dismayed residents of Melemele Place, a quiet dead-end road on the east side of Mānoa Valley. Neighbors went out on many nights trying to catch the frog, which is about the size of a quarter (typical for the species).

The problem was every time residents went looking for it, their flashlights would scare the frog into silence.

"I would hear it and go out there and it would stop, so I would turn off my flashlight and just wait in the dark," said Laka Preis Carpenter, who lives on that street and went on several frog-hunting missions.

The recent cold and windy weather also foiled the hunt. Department of Agriculture inspectors went out to the area to hunt for the frog two weeks ago in less than optimal weather, but were unsuccessful.

"They are more apt to call when it is warm and humid," state Agriculture Department spokeswoman Janelle Saneishi said.

But a week ago today, the weather was warm, the flashlights were off, and inspectors returned to the same area. They were confident that the coqui wasn't going anywhere. Once coquis find a place they like, you can count on them being there, Saneishi said.

Within 20 minutes, the frog had been captured.

No frog traps or poisons were used. The frog was caught by hand.

"They're not poisonous or anything," Saneishi said.

The hunt was conducted by Agriculture Department plant quarantine inspectors and a member of the O'ahu Invasive Species Committee.

It is not the first coqui frog found on O'ahu. One was caught in Waikīkī in the past year, possibly a stowaway in a shipment of landscaping materials. And recently, the frog has been reported making a "second invasion" in Waimānalo.

Saneishi said it is not known how this coqui got to Mānoa Valley, and though the noise has stopped, there could be others out there, particularly the female frogs, which are quiet.

"We need everyone to be our eyes and ears and report suspected coqui and other invasive species to the state's Pest Hotline — 643-PEST (7378)," Saneishi said. "If we can catch these individual frogs and small infestations of frogs, there is a good chance we can eradicate them and prevent them from becoming established like they are on the Big Island."

The Mānoa coqui frog is alive and being cared for at the Department of Agriculture "for educational purposes," Saneishi said.

The little guy already taught Preis Carpenter something. He does a pretty authentic coqui impersonation that he said he learned during those noisy nights.

Today, he and other Mele-mele Place residents are enjoying their quiet lane once again.

"For one frog, it was amazingly loud," Preis Carpenter said. "Where we live, there's no road noise, so that frog was all we could hear."