By Nina Wu
Coqui frogs. Little fire ants. Coconut rhinoceros beetles.
You name it, we've got it here in Hawaii. We're talking about invasive species that can do great ecological and economic damage.
So on Monday, Gov. Neil Abercrombie kicked off the second annual Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week. It's an enormous problem for the state, high enough priority for Gov. Abercrombie, who has proposed up to $5 million to meet the operating costs of invasive species programs.
"We are experiencing a biological crisis involving a multitude of invaders ranging from the fire ant and coconut rhinoceros beetle, which can harm our animals and trees, to parasites attacking coffee crops," said Gov. Abercrombie in this year's State of the State address. "Each represents a deadly threat to our isolated ecosystem, natural resources, and economy, and I ask the public's engagement in addressing this menace."
Crowdsourcing seems to be the new trend in tracking invasive (as well as endangered) species these days. The state is asking people to participate in Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week by participating in efforts to survey all coconut trees in the isles for the coconut rhinoceros beetle.
Adult rhino beetles bore into the crowns of coconut trees to drink the sap, leaving a distinctive v-shaped cut in the leaves when the fronds grow out. They could kill half the coconut trees in the state.
You can help by going to the Project Noah website or downloading the app. The Beetle Buster Team from the University of Hawaii will assess the presence or absence of the pest across the state.
There are also volunteer opportunities to combat invasive species across Hawaii:.
>> Help OISC remove invasive plants, Ardisia virens and Stromanthe tonckat at Lyon Arboretum 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 8. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 286-4616. RSVP required.
>> Pull weeds on the offshore islet of Moku‘auia Wildlife Sanctuary on Saturday, March 8. RSVP required.
>> Remove invasive manuka plants from Manana Trail 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Contact email@example.com. RSVP required.