CRB image by Kyle Ryan; 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. Our goal is to add dogs as a detection tool to existing efforts for bio-security, early detection, eradication and monitoring in the main Hawaiian islands.

We are currently training dogs to detect little fire ants or LFA (Wasmannia auropunctata), and coconut rhinoceros beetles or CRB (Oryctes rhinoceros), both highly invasive and destructive pests.

About LFA: 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.

About CRB: According to the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle Response, CRB was first detected on O’ahu in December of 2013. Native to Southeast Asia, adult CRB feed on emerging palm fronds, causing damage that can often be severe enough to kill the plant. CRB populations can have devastating impacts on palm species that are foundational to cultural heritage, agriculture, ecosystems, and economies, when out of their native range. in 2023, CRB was detected on Kaua‘i.

About Coqui Frog (Future Target): Another pest we hope to address in the future is the coqui frog (Eleutherodactylus coqui), 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.

Where: Our LFA program will initially focus on O‘ahu, and our CRB program will focus on Kaua‘i. We hope to expand our LFA program to the neighbor islands in the future.

More Information Coming Soon!