A coqui frog. AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo

Who wouldn't welcome the incredibly loud, high-pitched, nighttime mating call of the coqui?

Coqui frogs are kind of adorable, if you’re into amphibians. But if you’ve ever visited Hawaii, where the two-inch-long frogs are numerous, you’ve probably heard the sound that drives locals crazy: “Ko-kee,” their high-pitched mating call. From dusk to dawn, male frogs trill at 90 decibels, roughly the sound of a power mower.

Now Los Angeles is getting its own introduction to these chirp-tastic neighbors. On a frog-finding expedition with reporter Jason Goldman, Greg Pauly, curator of herpetology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, found nearly 100 coquis hiding out in an L.A. County wholesale nursery. It wasn’t a surprise; L.A. has a major port, and is home to countless other invasive species. But given Hawaii’s experience, the influx might spell sleepless nights for L.A. residents.

In their native Puerto Rico, coquis have been kept under control by natural predators. But in Hawaii, where the frogs likely arrived via the nursery trade in the 1980s, the coquis chirp unchecked. On the Big Island, some of the worst-hit areas are infested with more than 10,000 of the frogs per acre. According to the L.A. Times, the Hawaiian and federal governments have spent millions on coqui control and remediation. But for many communities, the efforts haven’t helped with sleep disruption—or with the frogs’ effect on property values. Goldman writes at KCET:

According to a 2006 study, property values can even decline in areas of high coqui density to the tune of 0.16 percent. On the Big Island, that would represent a combined loss of about $7.6 million dollars if the frogs spread to all residential neighborhoods.

Pauly says that at least a few frogs have spread beyond that L.A. County greenhouse into residential neighborhoods. “I’ve had three reports in the last two weeks,” he says. “It’s always the same thing: People who say they can’t sleep because of this animal.”

Are coquis likely to overwhelm Southern California, the way they did in Hawaii? Since they thrive in warm, humid places, Pauly doesn’t worry too much about those lone frogs reproducint in Angelenos’ backyards, since the climate is generally arid.

But if they found their way to somewhere like the L.A. River or a big, lush golf course, that might be another story. “That’s my big worry,” says Pauly. “We have these artificial, manmade habitats where there is abundant water.”

Coquis, welcome to the paved paradise.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Charts

    The Evolution of Urban Planning in 10 Diagrams

    A new exhibit from the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association showcases the simple visualizations of complex ideas that have changed how we live.

  2. Life

    The Cities Americans Want to Flee, and Where They Want to Go

    An Apartment List report reveals the cities apartment-hunters are targeting for their next move—and shows that tales of a California exodus may be overstated.

  3. photo: a pair of homes in Pittsburgh
    Equity

    The House Flippers of Pittsburgh Try a New Tactic

    As the city’s real estate market heats up, neighborhood groups say that cash investors use building code violations to encourage homeowners to sell.  

  4. photo: A Lyft scooter on the streets of Oakland in July.
    Transportation

    4 Predictions for the Electric Scooter Industry

    Dockless e-scooters swept cities worldwide in 2018 and 2019. In 2020, expect the battery-powered micromobility revolution to take a new direction.

  5. photo: Dominque Walker, founder of Moms 4 Housing, n the kitchen of the vacant house in West Oakland that the group occupied to draw attention to fair housing issues.
    Equity

    A Group of Mothers, a Vacant Home, and a Win for Fair Housing

    The activist group Moms 4 Housing occupied a vacant home in Oakland to draw attention to the city’s affordability crisis. They ended up launching a movement.

×