WAILUKU – Bring a flashlight to a workshop on Wednesday arranged to teach residents how to locate the invasive brown tree snake, which has overwhelmed parts of Guam.
Mayor Charmaine Tavares’ office, the state Department of Agriculture and Division of Forestry and Wildlife along with the Maui Invasive Species Committee are hosting the free event from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Kahului Community Center annex, at 275 Uhu St.
Live snakes and other prohibited species will be on display, and participants are asked to bring a flashlight for use in a snake-detection exercise that uses dummy snakes.
The session also will provide information about the snakes, including their biology and behavior and why people should be concerned about their possible introduction here. A key part of the meeting will involve what to do and whom to contact if a snake were sighted.
By Glenn I. Teves, County Extension Agent, UH College of Tropical Agriculture
The recent deaths of horses, mules and cattle on the island believed to be caused by consuming poisonous plants mixed in hay brings attention to the many poisonous plants we have on the island. The most obvious suspect is one of the deadly nightshades, Jimson Weed or Datura stramonium, seen throughout Ho`olehua. It is known by many names, including Stink Weed, Devil’s Apple, Thorn Apple, and Moonflower. This plant resembles the Apple of Peru, Nycandra physalodes, a common weed in Ho`olehua, and one in which animals eat without any negative effects. It has a similar flower and leaf shape, which could cause animals to eat Jimson Weed by mistake.
A member of the tomato family, or Solanaceae, the poisonous nightshades caused edible members of this family, especially tomatoes, to be viewed for generations with apprehension because people thought they were poisonous. Jimson weed or Jamestown Weed has a reputation that goes back centuries. Its scientific name, stramonium, means ‘mad nightshade’ due to its reputation for making people delirious or mad.
Its common name originated from Jamestown, Virginia where, in 1676, the British were sent to crush a rebellion, called the Bacon’s Rebellion. The British made a boiled salad from the Jimson Weed leaves, and were delirious for 11 days. When they came to their senses, they couldn’t remember a thing.
Brazilian insect could slow growth of nonnative strawberry guava tree
The state is once again seeking approval to release a Brazilian scale insect into Hawaii forests to control the spread of the popular but environmentally needy strawberry guava tree.
Acres already densely infested
Acres of native forest areas that could become densely infested at current rates of growth
Acres of native forest not yet threatened
The state Department of Agriculture is expected to release an environmental assessment today, and the public will have 30 days to weigh in on the controversial bio-control initiative, which has been hotly debated for the past two years.
The assessment notes that the nonnative strawberry guava, which does not have a natural predator in Hawaii, crowds out native plants and animals and reduces the amount of water in soil, streams and groundwater systems by as much as 50 percent during dry periods. According to information cited in the study, strawberry guava also threatens Hawaiian archaeological sites and supports the proliferation of fruit flies, which can damage commercial produce.
"At its current trajectory, strawberry guava will take over all native plants statewide unless something is done," said Christy Martin, public information officer for the Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species, which coordinates alien pest responses by the state departments of Agriculture, Health, Land and Natural Resources and other agencies.
Fast-growing, fragile trees are looming threat
By Colin M. Stewart
Tribune-Herald Staff Writer
It’s only a matter of time, says a group of Hawaiian Beaches residents, before someone is seriously injured, or worse.
"People are going to die soon," agreed University of Hawaii at Hilo associate professor of biology Becky Ostertag.
What has the Puna residents and experts so concerned is the albizia tree.
A relative newcomer to Hawaii, albizia were introduced here in 1917 by botanist Joseph Rock as an ornamental tree and for reforestation purposes.
With its tall white trunk and wide-spreading, umbrella-like canopy capable of shading up to a half acre, the albizia tree makes for a pleasing contrast to the black outcroppings of lava rock and scrubby underbrush so prevalent in the Puna area.
It is one of the fastest growing trees in the world, according to albizia expert Flint Hughes of the U.S. Forest Service.
The tree can grow to 20 feet tall in its first year, 45 feet in its third, and 60 feet by the end of its 10th year.
It is albizia’s ability to grow so quickly, however, that makes it a threat to those under its expansive network of branches, said Hughes.
It took a lot of trying, but the lone Mānoa coqui frog has been captured.
The presence of the coqui, known for its piercing, loud shrieks, had dismayed residents of Melemele Place, a quiet dead-end road on the east side of Mānoa Valley. Neighbors went out on many nights trying to catch the frog, which is about the size of a quarter (typical for the species).
The problem was every time residents went looking for it, their flashlights would scare the frog into silence.
"I would hear it and go out there and it would stop, so I would turn off my flashlight and just wait in the dark," said Laka Preis Carpenter, who lives on that street and went on several frog-hunting missions.
The recent cold and windy weather also foiled the hunt. Department of Agriculture inspectors went out to the area to hunt for the frog two weeks ago in less than optimal weather, but were unsuccessful.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists issued an emergency action notification after discovering noxious weed seeds and a plant pathogen in a shipment of thatched grass for roofing material at the port in Honolulu.
Agriculture specialists, while inspecting a shipment in early February, detected a large number of Imperata cylindrica, a species of a federal noxious weed.
They also found black spots on the stems of the grass, identified as a plant pathogen, Massariothea botulispora (Teng).
The agriculture specialists issued an emergency notification requiring the items be immediately exported from the United States.
"Some products can be a vehicle for harmful invasive species that can have a devastating impact on our nation’s agriculture industry, natural resources, as well as the economy," Bruce Murley, area port director for Honolulu.
BY DAVID OVALLE dovalle@MiamiHerald.com
Authorities are investigating a Hialeah man who allegedly smuggled illegal Giant African Snails into Florida and convinced his followers to drink their juices as part of a religious healing ritual.
State and federal authorities in January raided the home of Charles L. Stewart after learning he had a large box full of the snails — which grow to be up to 10 inches long — according to a search warrant filed recently in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.
The investigation is ongoing. No charges have been filed.
Invasive-weed infestations within Maui County are literally a growing problem. Despite the tough economic recession, invasive species prevention and mitigation programs remain a necessity for conserving our natural and agricultural resources. We need to look back only a few months ago to remember the show of local support for our Hawaii Department of Agriculture inspectors. While some positions were retained, Maui still must deal with the losses of important HDOA positions. Despite these setbacks, our local ranchers and natural area managers remain steadfast to continue the fight against these detrimental weed infestations, simply out of necessity.
For years, coqui frogs have wreaked havoc on the Big Island, keeping many residents awake at night.
And they’ve also popped up in some communities on Oahu, most recently in Waimanalo.
The coqui frogs are no stranger to the islands, but with the recent layoffs of inspectors at the Department of Agriculture, officials fear the invasion could get worse.
Imagine trying to sleep with this noise outside your home.
"If you go at night anywhere from Hilo out to Volcano and Volcano is at 4,000 feet above sea level the noise is deafening and it’s not a very pleasant experience," said Senator Clayton Hee.