Friday, April 5, 2013

Texas has hogs, Hawaii has frogs

Most Texans are all too familiar with the tremendous damage caused by feral hogs. If you have not had your pasture, yard, neighborhood golf course or favorite park spot damaged yet, just wait. Many Texans have likely seen the aftermath of an unsuspecting meeting between a feral hog and an automobile on the side of a state highway.

The invasion of unwanted pests is also occurring in another state, but there it is frogs, not
hogs. That's right, Hawaii is suffering so much from these unwanted amphibians called the coqui frog that the Hawaii Department of Agriculture has a staff member now referred to as the "frog whisperer." According to a Wall Street Journal article, these frogs cause so much noise they have become a damaging menace to both homeowners and tourists alike. Some compare the sound of the frogs’ chirps to lawn mowers, leaf blowers and even jet engines. I listened to a clip of the frogs on YouTube and while I wouldn't compare the pests to these objects, there is no way I could sleep with the chirping going on.

Especially alarming is how the coqui arrived in Hawaii. Indigenous to Puerto Rico, the frogs made their way across the Pacific Ocean as stowaways on cargo ships. Intrepid pests such as these is why the Texas Department of Agriculture utilizes partnerships with USDA inspectors at sea ports and our own TDA road side inspectors, to detect and deter the entry.

Citrus growers in the Valley constantly struggle to eliminate the Asian citrus psyllid and prevent the spread of citrus greening, and cotton farmers in all regions of Texas continue to battle the boll weevil in an effort that is finally paying off as farmers are closing in on getting the pest under manageable conditions. These programs are tremendously costly.  Wind and storms are unavoidable mechanisms to circulate unwanted agricultural pests, human mistakes must be avoided. 

While it is funny to learn about a Hawaiian "frog whisperer," the unwanted damage invasive pests cause is no laughing matter. I want us in Texas to remain vigilant to stop pests before they arrive so we can save our money or spend it on important causes such as getting our transportation system up to speed. It’s hard enough to get the hog out of Texas, let us not have to also battle pesky frogs of unwanted pests and diseases that cause havoc on our state's agricultural economy. Like our feral hogs, the coqui frog population has exploded over the last several years.

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