Spring 2014 Field Observations: The Coqui frog
by James A. Bethke
I have been warning that if the Coqui frog gets a foothold here in Southern California, especially if in our riparian areas, it will establish and become one of our banes. If any of you have visited Hawaii, especially the big island, you have heard the Coqui frog. They make a calming bird-like coo when they croak and when I first heard them at the Hilo Airport, I started to look for the hidden birds.
California inspectors have recently intercepted many shipments of ornamentals from Hawaii with either frogs or frog eggs present. The shipments are either destroyed or shipped back. In San Diego County, we have an active infestation at a local nursery that is no longer under the purview of the agricultural commissioner (because once it is detected in the nursery, and not just in a shipment, it falls under the regulatory authority of California Fish and Wildlife). We shall see if the infestation is eradicated.
More recently, San Diego County inspectors intercepted Coqui frog eggs on a shipment of 100 two-gallon dracaena from Hawaii, and when they inspected the eggs under a microscope, they verified that the eggs were alive. There is no official or highly effective eradication treatment, so the shipment was destroyed. If this frog gets established, it will have similar and potentially devastating impacts on nurseries in close proximity to the infestation just like any other “A” or “Q” rated pest, such as the light brown apple moth and red imported fire ant.
James A. Bethke
Farm Advisor, Nurseries and Floriculture
UC Cooperative Extension San Diego, North County Office
151 E. Carmel St., San Marcos, CA 92078
(760) 752-4715 phone; (760) 752-4725 fax