Monday, April 7, 2014

Coqui Frogs vs Little Fire Ants

First, it was the coqui (Eleutherodactylus coqui Thomas), those little frogs that found their way here from Puerto Rico about 35 years ago.

Those blasted toadies were blamed for wreaking havoc on Hawaii’s insect population, on which Hawaii’s own insects and spiders subsist.

It started on the Big Island, then spread to Oahu, and most recently, to Kauai. The State of Hawaii is attempting to control them with citric acid (y’know, vitamin C).

Although the State of Hawaii has categorized them as an “injurious species,” there’s actually a website in support of the coqui – – that advocates leaving the frogs alone. Did you know there was an International Save the Frog Day (April 29, 2011)? Well, try recruiting the Hawaii residents who are kept up all night with their incessant and loud “co-kwee” chirping during mating season.

So that’s one pest that’s back in the news lately. Why?

Because the news media needs to augment its stories about another invasive species, the Little Fire Ant (Wasmannia autopunctata). They’re called “little” for a reason – they are about half the size of a sesame seed (1.5 mm in length).

The second part of their name, “fire,” comes from the pain of their sting, with welts often lasting for weeks. As infesters of agricultural fields and farms, damage crops (chew chew) and they sting agricultural workers.

They are under control on Kauai, but not on the Big Island. And now, they have been found on Oahu, inadvertently spread by the shipment of nursery plants. The Hawaii Ant Lab ( has a bunch of “how-to” guides that tell you all about these little buggers and how to deal with them.

Okay … so there are frogs and ants. Frogs eat insects. Ants are insects. Ants sting frogs.

I have an idea: Let’s get the Coqui and the Little Fire Ants to make war on each other. It would be interesting to see which will prevail. Will the frogs eat up all the ants? Or will the ants sting the frogs to hell and back? The numbers of whichever emerges the winner will be decimated and easier for us to control.

The enemy of our enemy is our friend.

A second thought: Maybe they already are at war. Maybe that’s why the frogs have lumpy skin from their encounters … o O ( Okay, that’s enough. Stop it, Craig.)

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