The Green Leaf

Did you hear a "ko-KEE"? Listen Sept. 12

September 10th, 2012
The coqui frog is just about the size of a quarter, but reproduces quickly and makes a loud "ko-KEE" noise from dusk to dawn. Star-Advertiser archives photo.

The coqui tree frog, originally from Puerto Rico, is just about the size of a quarter, but reproduces quickly and makes a loud "ko-KEE" noise from dusk to dawn. OISC invites Oahu residents to go out and listen for the invasive coqui frogs as part of a new monitoring program via a new app on Wednesday. Star-Advertiser archives photo.

If you've ever been to Hawaii island, then you've no doubt heard the unmistakable "ko-KEE, ko-KEE, ko-KEE!" as dusk settled in.

Soon the lone call of the coqui frog, a Puerto Rican tree frog and invasive species in Hawaii, is joined by several other voices to create a cacophony to — shall we say — serenade you throughout the night.

While lone coqui frogs have been discovered on the island of Oahu from time to time, they have not yet established a population here.

The Oahu Invasive Species Committee hopes to keep it that way, and so this Wednesday (Sept. 12) has been established as "Go Out and Listen Night." OISC invites all Oahu residents to help listen for the invasive coqui frogs for a period of 15 minutes from 7:30 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday.

Report whether you did or did not hear a coqui frog in your area via the city's new "Honolulu 311" app.

For details on how to participate, or to hear what a coqui frog sounds like (if you've never been so lucky), or step-by-step instructions on how to use the app, visit www.coqui311.blogspot.com.

Coqui frogs, native to Puerto Rico, typically hitchhike to the island through potted plants or other items shipped from Hawaii island. They are light-brown to dark-colored frogs with variable patterns and reach up to two inches as adults. The "ko-KEE" is the male coqui's mating call, which sounds like a two-note, bird chirp (click hear to listen to a sample online). To learn more, visit the Hawaii Department of Agriculture website.

Since the beginning of this year, 20 coqui frogs have been captured on Oahu.

"Coqui frogs threaten to deprive residents of a good night's sleep with their earsplitting 'ko-KEE' calls that last from dusk until dawn, lower the value of properties, discourage tourism and alter the island's natural ecosystems by consuming beneficial insects that play an important role in nutrient cycling processes," says OISC in a press release.

If you don't have a smartphone, you can still report coqui frogs by emailing OISC at oisc@hawaii.edu or calling the state pest hotline, 643-PEST.

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