What on Earth? April is National Frog Month!

USGS A Leopard Frog in the Wetlands, July, 2016 (approx) Photo Credit, Rachel Harrington (public domain)

Great News!  

A Frog House is proud and grateful to announce that SAVE THE FROGS! is generously supporting part of the expenses for Save The Frogs Day! with a grant of $730.  This is a little less than half of our probable final expenses, so please contribute by buying tickets to our events and/or from the bottom of your hearts at the bottom of this page.

April is Abuzz with Arthropods

Anthropod April: Insects are animals too

Ecology is not a dirty word.  Manu Saunders, April 12 2015

See Saunders article cited above  with “10 examples of insect cuteness to rival a pygmy possum snuggling with a baby meerkat.”

When should I clean up my garden?

Alabama Cooperative Extension, Fireflies: A Beneficial Insect, April 11, 2023, Photo Credit, khlungcenter/shutterstock.

Fourteen percent of firefly (lightning buts) species are threatened with extinction from urban development, light pollution (turn off your exterior lights), drought, pesticides and lawn fertilizer (don’t use them) harming them. Instead, leave low hanging branches, and natural areas with leaf litter and tall grasses, and consider adding a water garden.  

Is this claim fact or fiction?

“Many butterflies, bees and other pollinators overwinter in the dead leaves and hollowed out stems of last year’s plants. If you clean your garden prematurely, you will literally be throwing away this year’s butterflies, bees and other beneficial pollinators.”

Oregon State University suggests that typical maintenance and cleanup tasks for spring gardens (such as pruning berries in March or cutting back ornamental grasses in April) are unlikely to broadly harm insect pollinators, with the possible exception of cavity-nesting bees.

At A Frog House we are cutting stalks and tying them in sheaves until it will be time to compost them in May.  

Promising News about the Invasive Spotted Lantern Fly

USDA Science, ARS Office of Communications in Research and Science, Photo Credit ARS-USDA

Lantern Fly sounds like Firefly, or Lightning Bug, but the former are entirely different, invasive, and highly destructive. They arrived with and feed on invasive non-native ailanthus trees, not to mention over 70 species of native fruit trees, ornamental trees, woody trees, vegetables, herbs, grains and vines.

Guess what? These troublesome bugs can be stomped out without using pesticides!  It turns out that both nymph and adult forms of Spotted Lantern Fly seem to be attracted to buzzing electric power lines where they can be trapped and destroyed without harming our beneficial insects with pesticides, and also saving time, energy, and money.

April is Abuzz with Activities

The Prairie Ecologist, Thank Goodness for Box Elder Bugs, February 18, 2013, Photo Credit, Chris Helzer

If you want to see some of these bugs, they are all over the southeast side of A Frog House now. Our frogs haven’t come forth yet, but they love to eat them. Come for feeding hours on Sunday afternoons starting on May 8!

As insects increase their activity and diversity In April, emerging from overwintering sites, mating, and beginning their reproductive activities, humans, individually or in organizations, are popping up with activities, collaborating and networking to hold important events that will help to educate and encourage action.

Unlike insects, who may not have a clue about the critical importance of what they are doing (although we don’t really know, do we?) climate activists are keenly aware of threats and concerned with preserving the very earth itself.

Some of my favorite organizations are abuzz … Big events were planned all over the path of the total solar eclipse, but in Rochester, sadly, it was a bit of a bust because of cloud cover.  

  • Rochester Ecology Partners is listing 5 April Activities (now 4)
  • Pachamama Alliance Rochester Area (PARA) lists 15 Member Initiatives, now including A Frog House.
  • Climate Solutions Accelerator of the Finger Lakes is hosting a huge climate summit, with a registration deadline on tax day, April 15.  
  • Then in Pittsford alone:
    • April 18: Tom Biebighauser, renowned international wetland expert presents at Pittsford Village Hall
    • April 22: Earth Day event at the Spiegel Recreation Center from 4 to 7 pm.
    • April 26: Arbor Day; one or more events are being planned with the Village.
    • April 28: Save The Frogs Day at 50 Mitchell Road.

April is National Frog Month

Earth Touch News, Top 10: Freaky and fascinating frogs, April 26, 2019. Photo Credit, Ian White, Flickr

The above article was written in honor of Save The Frogs Day and included the African Bull Frog, which is not only carnivorous, eating anything, including mammals that fit in its mouth but also cannibalistic, eating tadpoles of its own making. There are many fascinating facts which you can find both in the Earth Touch News Article about this amphibian, and in Wikipedia, of course.

April is a great month to honor the frog, which is unique in its representation through metamorphosis of transition. They are travelers as well, adapting to changing conditions, for example, by moving higher as the climate warms or finding water as far as a mile away through smell in times of drought. As a keystone species, they feed on insects and bugs, even spotted lantern flies, and are food for fish, birds and mammals.

Screenshot

The Lowndes Signal April is National Frog Month, April 5, 2023 by Lanell Downs Smith, originally published in National Geographic, Photo Credit, Derek Dafoe

The above article from last year highlights frogs as

  • integral to the food chain, serving as both predators and prey, and their loss could lead to significant disruptions in ecosystems.
  • valuable in research, with their skin secretions holding potential for pharmaceutical use, and their role as an early warning for environmental changes due to their sensitivity to pollution.
  • controlling insect populations, reducing the need for harmful pesticides and benefiting various organisms.

The article suggests ways to celebrate National Frog Month, such as participating in volunteer frog monitoring programs such as FrogWatch (available at our Seneca Park Zoo) which will teach you to identify frog calls, collect, record, and submit your findings for scientists to study. 

Most importantly, the authors describe the importance of frogs as bioindicators, warning us early of pollutants, including bacteria, chemicals and other changes in environmental conditions that harm humans as well.  

April Frogs and Wetlands Go Together

A Frog House How Wetlands Are Important Photo Credit Shubham Parkhe, M.D.

Wetlands are important to frogs for providing breeding habitat, food availability, protection from predators, moisture regulation, migration corridors, biodiversity support, and water quality maintenance.  

Conversely, frogs are vital to ecosystems for some reasons already cited, such as being indicator and keystone (predator-prey dyanamics maintaining balance) species but also for nutrient cycling, biodiversity support, seed dispersal.  Furthermore, they help wetland heath and structure by aerating and mixing soils through burrowing, promoting nutrient cycling, consuming algae and detritus preventing eutrophication.

We can’t forget wetland’s cultural and educational value. Visitors from Maryland looked at all the things to do in Pittsford this weekend, and their first pick was A Frog House!  People love frogs, attract ecotourism and provide opportunities for environmental education, the whole point of the Robert C. Corby Arboretum and Wildlife Sanctuary.  

Restoring Wetlands is a Crucial Environmental Action

Erie Canal Nature Preserve wetlands threatened with invasive species. Photo Credit, Robert Corby

Town Supervisor Bill Smith and and Village Mayor Alysa Plummer have a whole lot of other things to worry about besides wetlands and frogs, but we need to convince them that they couldn’t invest in anything more ecologically sound.  When they do, I think they will see all kinds of other benefits we can’t imagine now, mostly because frogs are magical, and F.R.O.G. is powerful.  

Wetllands provide:

  • habitat, even if temporary for migrators, for a huge variety of plant and animals, many rare or endangered.
  • flood control by absorbing and storing excess water during storms and heavy rainfalls.
  • better water quality by trapping sediments and pollutants such as nutrients and chemicals.
  • mitigation of climate change by sequestering carbon, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • protection against erosion by absorbing wave energy and stabilizing sediment along coastlines and shorelines.
  • income for local economies, supporting agriculture and fisheries, and offer opportunities for recreation, tourism, fishing, and hunting.

April Fools? Think Globally, Act Locally, or Think Locally, Act Globally?

That would be us! A Frog House. Photo Credit, Stephen Ransom.

Patrick Geddes, a Scottish planner and conservationist, coined this phrase in 1915.  He was able to transform failed urban communities quickly and inexpensively with his insights referring to environmental inclusiveness. In addition to this, every step we take for better or worse locally indeed affects our precious planet in the same way.

In another context, author Daniel Tarantola, MD,  writes in Thinking Locally, Acting Globally? – PMC – NCBI  

“Local thinking can and should inspire global policy through advocacy, social pressure, and democratic processes. Global action should be guided by local demands and build on local capabilities.”

Which brings me from the Rabbit Hole of Insects to A Frog House of Possibilities. We have a wonderful spring, summer and fall planned for you, which you can find here.  

Take Action!

First things first.

Would you want to miss the special presentation by Tom Biebighauser, who will be in town to propose wetlands renovations for the village? Would you want to miss the Sixteenth Annual Save The Frogs Day event that this (our sixth) year will be better than ever?

Especially if you want room to see Tom in person, please be sure to register here. (zoom places are unlimited)

If you want to add to the “better”,  please forward the Jpgs below to friends and family members.

We hope to see you all there, and please F.R.O.G. for good weather!