Tree frog
probably Hyla cinerea

 Frogs, Toads,
Your Pond

Probably Bufo terrestris

 By Kit Knotts and Members of Our Email Discussion List
Click images to enlarge

A welcome sound to most water gardeners is the first frog's "brrruuup", a sure signal of spring! For us it soon becomes a symphony of "beepers", tree frogs (probably Hyla cinerea), and "crooners", leopard frogs (probably Rana sphenocephala), starting and stopping as if conducted by an unseen maestro. Less welcome is the screeching of toads during mating season, an incessant high-pitched grinding whine that can deprive the neighborhood of sleep.  

At some point each year, most of us with ponds will find what appear to be a jillion tadpoles swimming around, and in most cases this is not a problem. The vigilant will find the eggs when they are first laid. Frogs lay their eggs in clusters, toads in strings, making them easy to tell apart.  

Leopard frog
probably Rana sphenocephala

Rich Sacher, Louisiana USA

Here in the deep South, we have a common brown toad which is found even in the center of urban areas. Unlike frogs, which live in and out of the water all spring and summer, toads are terrestrial, and only go into the water to mate and lay eggs.

Toads mating
Photo by Lou Ann Norman
The small black tadpoles of this brown toad secrete a mild toxin.which is why fish will not eat them. If 8-10 pairs of toads lay thousands of eggs in a relatively small pond, within a few days of the eggs hatching, your fish will show signs of stress...and if there are enough tadpoles, all your fish will die. It happens quite often here in New Orleans when hobbyists do not know about the toxicity of toad tadpoles.
The solution is to remove most the eggs every morning after the previous night's festivities...or to net out lots of tadpoles every day. A partial water change can also help reduce the level of toxins in the water, being careful to dechlorinate the fresh tap water as you add it. A hundred toad tadpoles will not hurt anything, but thousands of these tadpoles in a small pond can be toadily tragic.

Though most frog tadpoles are harmless and even desirable in the pond, we have heard reports of several types that will skeletonize waterlily pads.

Pablo Maccor, Argentina

I've had tadpoles that eat water lilies. They would eat everything as long as it was small and tender near the crown -- leaves, stalks and buds. I believe they are frogs' tadpoles of the Scinax (Ololygon) genus. I've had Nymphaea 'Virginalis', 'Joey Tomocik', 'Barbara Dobbins' and 'Wood's Blue Goddess' in the same pond and they would feast on the hardies but would not touch the tropical. They would also eat Egeria densa, but would not eat Vallisneria spiralis and Ceratophyllum demersum

Favorite Frog
Photo by Dennis Melcher

For many of us, our frogs become almost pets, some even named. We asked our discussion list members to send us their favorite frog photos (or their favorite frog's photo) for this gallery.

Favorite Frogs

An excellent web site for the classification, images and sounds of frogs and toads --

The University of Michigan Museum of Zoology Animal Diversity Web
Order Anura (frogs and toads)

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