Coqui image from Shutterstock; LFA image by Ricardo Solar (view license)

What and Why: Eradication of an invasive species becomes less likely and control costs increase as an invasive species spreads over time. The goal with inter-island bio-security is to prevent the spread of highly invasive species from island to island, which can happen through boats, planes and cargo such as nursery plants, vehicles and construction equipment.

The coqui frog (Eleutherodactylus coqui) is a small tree frog that are known for their loud, incessant and distinctive “ko-kee” vocalization from dusk until dawn. According to the Hawaii Invasive Species Council, there are no natural predators or competitors to keep their populations in check, therefore their population can explode and disrupt the balance of native ecosystems. Coqui frogs eat large quantities of insects, which can result in not only an imbalance in the ecosystem, but also decreased plant sales and lowered property values.

In 2023 we will also train dogs to detect little fire ants (Wasmannia auropunctata), another highly invasive and destructive pest. According to Hawaii Invasive Species Council, LFA delivers a painful sting when disturbed, with welts lasting for weeks. They can also infest houses, beds, furniture and food. They may sting, and even blind, pets such as cats and dogs. In the Galapagos, little fire ants eat tortoise hatchlings and attack the eyes of adult tortoises. Little fire ant infestations can cause significant economic damage, specifically to the agriculture, park, and school sectors.

Our goal with the dogs is to add an olfactory tool to current detection efforts in the bio-security realm.

Where: Our program will initially focus on potted nursery plants that are shipped as inter-island cargo.

More Information Coming Soon!