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Coqui frog on Garden Isle is captured and eliminated

LIHUE >> A little problem with loud consequences was captured at a Lihue residence last week, most likely a stowaway in a car recently brought from Hawaii island.

The male coqui frog was heard chirping by a neighbor, according to the state Department of Agriculture, after the resident bought a car that originated on Hawaii island. The frog was contained and eliminated by crews from the department and the Kauai Invasive Species Committee. Surveillance of the area will continue.

“This capture is a great example of the Kauai community working together to prevent invasive pests from establishing on our island,” said Tiffani Keanini of KISC.

The noise is the problem with coqui frogs, which are about the size of a quarter. The males emit a chirp and the species multiplies rapidly.

Their numbers can reach into the tens of thousands, and they make noise all night long, according to Pam Varma, who lives in the Wailua Houselots. She just returned from a trip to Hilo, where she experienced firsthand how loud the frogs can be.

“It’s a cute sound, actually somewhat pleasant with just a few, but when you hear 40,000 it’s a solid wall of sound,” she said. “Even if you’re driving with your windows up, you can hear them.”

As a visitor she was willing to put up with it during her stay in Hilo, but said she’d find the sound less amusing if she had to live with it.

Those who live there say it has definitely changed the atmosphere of the nights on the Big Island.

“In areas where they are widespread, it’s a constant sound from dusk to dawn and even past that,” said Franny Brewer, communications director with the Big Island Invasive Species Committee.

And over the past 15 years the frogs have expanded their nightly chirping to an occasional chorus during overcast days.

“They’re getting more bold, and we’ve actually noticed that they’re getting bigger,” Brewer said. “One theory is that they’re living longer than they did in their native environment and they don’t have much predation.”

She said some people have found coqui frogs that are three times the size they were 15 years ago.

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