Rescuing Tadpoles and Saving Frogs, Preventive Collaboration

From the New York Times article cited below. A tufted titmouse surveys the landscape from its perch in an Eastern redbud tree (Cercis canadensis), in Nancy Lawson’s Maryland garden. Photo Credit, Nancy Lawson

First Things First

Have you registered for our Bioregional Potluck Garden Party?  

Thursday, June 22, 5:30 to 8:30 PM

We hope you will come and we need to plan tableware, tables, chairs. Led by Victoria Zelin and Jonathan Cloud, Possible Planet (Rochester), Genesee Finger Lakes Bioregional Learning Center, an emerging project, and Dan Antonioli, Ecological and Social Change Agent, Writer, Green Builder, Permaculture Designer, a proposed project. Learning about YOU and what you are doing as well.

More details and registration can be found here:

Setting up a kiddy pool and netting tadpoles. Photo credit, Bonnie Abrams

Rescuing Tadpoles                                                                                  

On opening your swimming pool: Many homeowners open their pools around Memorial Day. It is a good idea to open it a few weeks before you want to swim, but when day time temperatures are steadily in the mid sixties. If you wait too long at those temperatures, you may have a ton of algae, which is great for the tadpoles on your pool cover, but not so fun for swimmers.  (The Best Time to Open Your Pool, Liner Specialists, April 1, 2019)

But it is about tadpoles that we speak, because A Frog House is in the search and rescue business. Below are two stories along these lines:  

A Frog House: Outreach & Rescue

By guest author Bonnie Abrams

Our motto at A Frog House is “Honoring life, One Frog at a Time” while our mission is advocacy, collaboration and education.

On July 5th, 2021, I got to fulfill that mission with help from my friend, Linda Servetnick.

We honored life, actually, several hundred frogs at a time!

Thanks to a letter written by Liz Ayers, who cared enough about these cuties to contact A Frog House about what to do with her pool cover tadpoles, our founder, Margot Fass, gave me this new hat to wear.  

Toads breed in temporary water and sometimes, if that water is around for a few months in the spring and early summer, frogs do as well.  

A popular breeding spot on properties with some woodland and a swimming pool is the soft cover many people use to close up for the season. Ice melts, rain accumulates and leaves and other organic matter collects, making this man made habitat a perfect amphibian nursery!

Usually people like to open their pools for the season by the 4th of July and the tadpoles may still be there. A Frog House will come to the rescue of as many of your tadpoles as possible, but we cannot take them away for you.  

Amphibians should not be transported more than a mile from where they are found. If you are a nature lover who cares about the environment, and would feel broken-hearted dumping tadpoles onto the ground to die, we have a simple solution.

Place a small kiddie pool in a relatively protected part of your property and fill it with water from your pool cover. Put some rocks on one end so that the frogs and toads can climb out after they have grown their legs.  

Liz Ayers and her husband, Ken Gibson, setting up a second kiddie pool sanctuary for the tadpoles from their pool cover. Photo Credit, Bonnie Abrams

Use a pond skimmer net and/or aquarium net to scoop as many as possible out of the middle and edges respectively of your pool cover, and put them in the kiddie pool. They will metamorphose and hop along their merry ways.

Liz has the most eclectic collection of tadpoles I have ever seen in one such spot. Her toads, gray tree frogs and green frogs will reward her for life by being ravenous insect eaters and providing food for larger predators higher on the food chain.                                                              

With a little effort you can treat your frogs as the treasures they all are.

A Toad nicked by a lawnmower. Photo credit, Brett Goldstein

A Very Sad Story

By guest author Brett Goldstein

Good morning Margot, I just called you and asked how best to save a toad in my backyard that had been badly cut up by a lawnmower — from hence forward, I will now refer to as a highly mechanized instrument of lawn warfare!

All the lawnmower operators out there will say this toad was unfortunately “collateral damage”. Well, I have a much different perspective after seeing this creature crawl up to my deck and hang out in my backyard as if looking for help.

The only reason I even noticed the toad was with the help of my dog who sniffed him out, and to my surprise, did not bark or go after the toad with his paws like he always does with toads. But this time, even my dog Archie knew something wasn’t right with this toad.

I got a closer look and saw right away that the front part of its mouth/snout had gotten clipped and was dangling off the side of its head.

I tried brushing off the cut grass that was stuck to the wound and then I pressed the loose skin and tissue back down, folding it under its eyes. The first thing that struck me was that I should have heeded the calls for “No Mow May”, but alas, it was too late for this little fellow. This whole incident is making me re-think whether we should be mowing our lawns or having lawns to mow at all.  

Here are the pictures I took of my attempt to [honor the life] of this backyard toad. Photo Credits, Brett Goldstein

[As we had agreed, I gently took it in a box to a nice spot with water nearby and set it down at the water’s edge.] The images of a lot of other animals suffering flooded my mind — disturbing/disrupting various animal habitats from birds in bushes to snakes in the grass to burrowing beavers, chipmunks, ground hogs, hedge hogs, etc.

Most people may brush these concerns off as only being a “1st World problem”, telling me to take it easy, calm down, slow my roll and not go to the anti-lawn extreme…

Well, if you had seen how this toad was struggling to survive, I bet you dollars to doughnuts you would have a change of heart.                    

Editors note:  This conversation with Brett was so touching in so many ways; I was moved by his compassion and concern. I did follow up with Kerry Kriger, PhD, to find out what he would have done in the circumstances.  His answer was “I would take him to a nice spot and hold a brief ceremony… or just let him be.”  He also wrote: “If you did want to euthanize him I could offer suggestions…”  We did not.  

Brett, to whom it turned out later that our family is connected in other ways, independently from his heart has come up with an idea that is gaining more and more attention; get rid of lawns, and turn your property into a wildlife sanctuary.  

From the NY article cited below.  When Ms. Lawson … speaks of the voices of garden inhabitants like the male green frog, she uses the word “sound” — not “noise,” which is how she describes our human-made disturbances. Photo Credit, Nancy Lawson

We Are Not Alone

excerpts from NY Times author Margaret Roach

about Nancy Lawson, “Wildscape: Trilling Chipmunks, Beckoning Blooms, Salty Butterflies, and Other Sensory Wonders of Nature,”

Quiet, Please: You Are Not Alone in Your Garden There’s a multicultural world outdoors — and even the gentlest gardeners often disrupt it. Here’s how to avoid that. May 31, 2023

“True, gardeners are now more aware than they were even a few years ago of the importance of habitat-style gardening with native plants, and the benefits to insects and other wildlife. But many conventional landscaping practices — used even by those trying to garden gently — result in harsh, if unintended, consequences for a diversity of animal inhabitants.

A mowed landscape is inhospitable to so many creatures, including fireflies, who may rest by day in tall grasses. And a too-scrupulous cleanup eliminates mosses, dead wood and leaf-litter habitat — places where female fireflies lay their eggs, and the favored haunts of slugs and snails, a food source of firefly larvae.

“These are exactly the things that chipmunks need, too, and birds need,” Ms. Lawson said. “And we need, as well.”

Margaret Roach is the creator of the website and podcast A Way to Garden, and a book of the same name.

From Naturally Green FLX website, Photo Credit unknown.

Three Sources for Taking Preventative Action

Shortly after Brett wrote his story, there was this news item about Michael Warren Thomas in Spectrum Local News.  

Mr. Thomas writes that he will be doing classes at Brighton Continuing Ed this fall. Because of draught and the hot months of summer, this is the time to smother grass and plan, but plant [native] perennials in the fall.

He offers a free phone conversation in exchange for some photos, and then sets up a consultation for general recommendations or a specific blueprint design.  A true renaissance man living in the 19th ward, this man has been an author and radio host touting the Finger Lakes features of wine, flora and fauna for more than 25 years.  For local professional assistance on making a wildlife habitat on your own property, contact him directly.

A person we have featured often before for sustainable gardening is Patty Love, of Barefoot Permaculture She is pretty booked up for the year, but you can listen to what she had to say in her presentation “Frog and Pollinator Friendly Gardening”  at A Frog House’s first webinar in 2020 here (see Part II, 11:30 AM), and maybe get in line for her assistance.  

Healthy Yards Monroe is an excellent source for taking the first steps, and invite you contact them to get involved and register your garden as part of the pollinator pathway.  The somber warning on their website is:  “Scientists estimate humans will only be able to survive without insects for two to three months. Please rethink your use of pesticides.”  

A Frog House International Tea Party, October 10, 2021. Photo Credit Jennifer Patterson Kelly

Meet Other Like-Minded People. Tell us who you are on Thursday, June 22, 5:30 to 8:30 PM at A Frog House, 65 State Street, Pittsford, NY 14534

This event is FREE, but to help us plan for this event, please