Tiny frogs have invaded Hawaii’s Big Island. The problem is that when they croak in chorus at night, they make a noise as loud as a helicopter, so resident humans aren’t getting much sleep.
The frogs are about the size of a nickel, and arrived in Hawaii from the Caribbean in the mid-80’s, probably in an agricultural shipment. Since they have no natural predators in Hawaii, they have swelled in numbers and now pose such a hindrance to a good night’s sleep that a hotline has been set up for frustrated insomniacs.
Last year, they were reported in a dozen sites, but this year they’ve been heard in 150 places. In some cases, there are more than 8,000 frogs per acre of land, and the chorus is becoming deafening. They threaten the island’s ecosystem by competing for food with native birds and wildlife, since theyconsume up to 46,000 insects per acre every night. They also annoy tourists and lower real estate values.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering spraying the frogs with caffeine to give them cardiac failure (coffee drinkers, take note). They say this would not be harmful to humans, plants or wildlife.
Meanwhile, residents are forming frog vigilante groups. Larry Stevens, a social worker who hasn’t had a good night’s sleep in months, said that he and his neighbors have been going out three nights a week armed with ladders, flashlights and plastic bags-but they haven’t been able to catch any of them.
“It was hopeless,” he said, “There were just too many. Now they’re out of control.”
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