By Chef Carola
El Verdian coquís—E. coquí frogs living in the El Verde area—are a hungry group. We admit it: We aren’t producers like those nice trees and plants that use sunlight to make their own food. We are consumers; we get our energy by eating other organisms. You can also call us predators because we kill other organisms and feed on them, but "consumer" sounds so much nicer! What we love are insects! We just can't get enough of them! My husband made a count last year. (He's quite a math whiz.) He found that on one nearby patch of land merely one hectare in size, only 2.5 acres, we eat some 114,000 insects of assorted sizes every night. Now that's a lot of bugs! Adults capture an average of 3.2 insects. Young coquís eat twice as many—maybe six insects a night —but the ones they eat are a lot smaller. Of course, when I say insects, I mean insects and also assorted small creatures such as spiders and centipedes.
We are not picky eaters.
We adults just adore crickets. Cockroaches are excellent, if they aren’t too large. Beetles taste best when served with a blade of grass. (The green of the grass adds to the color of the dish, don't you think?) Moths are especially tasty with large quantities of evening dew. Spiders are delicious, but only those that are very dead. Live spiders can cause bad heartburn and intestinal problems. Perhaps surprisingly, we don't have much of an appetite for termites or walking sticks.
Our children, like children everywhere, are not very adventurous when it comes to food. They like ants. Brown ants, black ants, wet ants, dry ants. Scurrying ants, sleeping ants. Ants on a leaflet, ants under a stone, ants making a journey back to their home. Any kind of ant. Yes, indeed, they do like ants.
My personal favorite is a combination of moth wing and cricket leg. Soak it for a time in rainwater.
Editor's Note: Your humble servant would like to make two comments. First, according to a newspaper article, hikers in El Yunque are favorably impressed that mosquitoes are not as bothersome here as in other tropical forests. They attribute this to the fact that we (along with the lizards) eat some two and a half billion insects every day in the forest! It's nice to know we're appreciated,
Second, Chef Carola does not mention the recent controversy. Scientists have observed that some El Verdian male coquís crave the eggs of their own species. We cannot be selective, Chef Carola, in what we tell the public.