In addition to the beautiful flora and fauna that exists on the Big Island, there are also several pests that have made a home here as well. These are the five worst invasive pests on the Big Island:
Ruining outdoor adventures and cozy porches across the island is everyone’s least favorite pest, the mosquito. There are currently two types of mosquito that plague our island – the Aedes aegypti (yellow fever mosquito) and the Aedes albopictus(Asian tiger mosquito). While mosquitos have been irritating the human population since time started, these two in particular have been known to spread zika virus, dengue fever, chikungunya, and other diseases. None of these diseases are native or common to Hawaiʻi and for the most part can be properly treated, however, they still highlight the loathsome power of invasive species.
Albizia is actually the umbrella genus of over 150 species of tropical tree, which are also known as silk plant or silk tree. Albizia are also part of the Fabaceae family, also known as the legume, pea, or bean family – the same family as the highly respected Koa tree. However, unlike the strong, hardy, respected Koa tree, the Albizia is despised for its invasiveness and frailty. Albizia is known for its weak roots and tendency to lose branches, which in turn can cause major damage. Tropical Storm Iselle displayed the danger of Albizia when its winds caused entire forests of these trees to fall and block roads, destroy houses, and down powerlines.
This invasive species has been waging war against peace and quiet on the Big Island for close to 20 years now and have become an accepted nighttime noisemaker. Known for and named after the loud “Coqui” mating call, these frogs are just barely larger than a quarter. These frogs are native to Puerto Rico and believed to have arrived via imported potted plants. Coquis do not have any known predators, and its populations skyrocket in the Big Island’s lush tropical environment. While mainly considered a loud nuisance, the Coqui’s insatiable drive to mate and multiply have thrown off the Big Island’s delicate ecosystem.
Little Fire Ant
One of the most nefarious invasive species on this list is also one of the most minute – but you’ll definitely know they’re there if they’re there. Nothing packs a wallop like the little fire ant, whose painful bite can set your skin on metaphorical fire for the next several days. These ants are experts in infesting anywhere with a source of water and are perfectly happy with making your home, theirs in a matter of days. If you are unfortunate enough to rustle an infested tree, they will drop onto you, swarm you, and send you running for the hills.
While originally an unknown killer of our native ʻŌhia plant, it has been determined that the fungus known as Ceratocystis fimbriata is responsible for Rapid ʻŌhia Death. This nasty fungus is known for causing a multitude of other diseases, such as black rot in sweet potato, wilt in coffee and mangoes, and cankers across several other species. However, residents of Hawaiʻi will be most familiar with its devastating effect on the ʻŌhia forests that blanket the island. Ceratocystis fimbriata is responsible for killing healthy trees within a matter of weeks, with rapid deforestation reported in most districts.