The Hawaii Department of Agriculture is participating in a multi-agency campaign to stop the spread of coqui in Hawaii.
This webpage provides information on the coqui problem and also asks the assistance of the public’s eyes and ears to report possible new infestations of coqui. This page will also provide links to other sources of information on coqui.
What is a coqui? The coqui is a small light-brown to dark-colored frog with variable patterns including a light stripe down the middle of its back. Adult frogs measure up to two inches.
What does it sound like? The mating call of the male coqui is similar to a two-note bird-like chirp or whistle, which starts at dusk and may continue throughout the night. Females do not vocalize. To download and listen to the mating call, click
Where did it come from? The coqui is native to Puerto Rico. It is also found in the southeastern part of the United States.
Why is it a problem here?
- Coqui do not have natural enemies in Hawai`i to keep the population in check. The warm tropical weather likely promotes breeding all year long.
- In some areas, populations may exceed 10,000 frogs per acre, which consume more than 50,000 insects per night. As such, coqui may endanger native Hawaiian insect populations, including plant pollinators, and compete with Hawaii’s native birds.
- The noise levels have been measured at up to 80-90 decibels, comparable to that produced by a lawnmower.
- Coqui infested areas have caused restless nights for residents and visitors who are unable to sleep due to the noise produced by the shrieking frogs.
How did they come here? It is widely assumed that the frogs arrived in potted plant material from the mainland or Puerto Rico.
How are they spread?
- Since the coqui remain hidden during the day, the movement of household potted plants has been associated with its spread. There have also been a few reports that coqui have been purposely released in certain areas, which is illegal (see question on penalties).
- Where are they during the day? Coqui remain hidden during the day in leaf litter. Adult males emerge into the trees at night calling “ko-kee” to attract females.
- Females lay their eggs among cuplike vegetation. Juvenile frogs hatch in 2 – 3 weeks. There is no tadpole stage.
What do I do if I think I hear a coqui? If you hear a bird-like call or whistle during evening hours, you can look for the coqui by using a flashlight to locate the frog, capture it by hand (the coqui is non-toxic) or use a jar with a lid to contain the animal. Do not transport the coqui from the area.
CALL the State’s Toll-Free PEST HOTLINE at: 643-PEST (7378)
What happens if someone is caught with coqui? Any person or organization who intentionally transports, harbors or imports with the intent to propagate, sell, or release the coqui is in violation of State law and may be charged with a class C felony and subject to a minimum fine of $50,000 and maximum fine of $200,000, plus 3 years in prison.
How can I get posters and information cards on coqui? Contact the Hawaii Department of Agriculture Public Information Office at (808) 973-9560. To download an 8″ x 11-1/2″ informational poster on the coqui, click here.
Other items on the coqui web:
- Links to other related websites:
- Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk (HEAR) project-Alien Caribbean Frogs in Hawai`i at www.hear.org/frogs
- Coqui Poster (in pdf format) that can be printed out.
- Control of Coqui in Hawaii – UH-College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources website