Pacific chorus frog hitches ride to Kaua‘i in shipment
LIHU‘E — A family in Wailua Houselots got a surprise Tuesday when a frog jumped out of a Christmas tree they bought from Walmart in Lihu‘e.
The couple captured the frog in their living room and turned it over to the Kaua‘i Invasive Species Committee.
After identifying the critter as a Pacific chorus frog, the KISC reported it to the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture in Honolulu.
“We are really encouraging people to buy locally to avoid importation of unwanted invasive species,” said Keren Gundersen, KISC project manager.
Some intercepted Christmas tree pests are not normally found in Hawai‘i and could have devastating ecological consequences.
Wasps, slugs and the occasional frog have held up container deliveries of trees to the islands in the past few weeks, including one container of trees from the Pacific Northwest earlier this month that was found to be infested with slugs, according to a story by The Associated Press.
The Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture quarantined the shipment while employees vigorously shook the trees or hosed them down with hot water.
The state absorbs the overtime costs of plant inspectors, who also clear other items being shipped to Hawai‘i.
“We want the public to be on the lookout for these types of creatures,” said Gundersen. “HDOA is doing everything humanly possible to inspect these trees, but it is a huge task and things are bound to slip through.”
KISC is urging the community to report any unusual pest that may have hitched a ride to Hawai‘i from the Pacific Northwest on Christmas trees.
Reports can be made to 821-1490.
• Laurie Cicotello, business writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257) or firstname.lastname@example.org