I can remember when the nighttime sounds of forests on the Big Island in Hawaii were filled only with the unique songs of native insects. Having studied native Hawaiian crickets for nearly three decades I’ve become familiar with the deep, cow-bell pulses of the Hawaiian tree cricket and the soft, sleigh-bell pulses of Uhini iki, the Hawaiian swordtail cricket.
Today, they can barely be heard. In the past few years, a population explosion of the invasive coqui frog (Eleutherodactylus coqui) has transformed the acoustic landscape of Big Island forests into a monotonous din, masking these native songs. Tens of thousands of amphibian voices, calling “ko-keee, ko-keee, ko-keee,” mask the songs of native endemics. So dense and widespread are the populations on the island that state officials have deemed the goal of permanent removal unfeasible there, focusing instead on eradication efforts for the remaining islands where the coqui has yet to deeply establish itself