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Anyone want to do a frog project this year?


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I promised I'd repost closer to the time, and for most of the United States, it's about time.

 

For the last two years, DD has been researching ways to make low cost backyard ponds to observe frog metamorphosis without having to have to take frogs out of their native ecosystem, and has had some pretty good success. This year, she's doing a few tweaks on her home project, but also needs replicate data to show that her methods are reproducible. If anyone is interested in doing a pond this year, and sharing the results with her as far as what animals (frogs and otherwise) use the pond, changes you make, difficulties you face, and so on, we would appreciate it. Data will be included in a paper in aggregate, and all participants will be credited. Her goal is to write up and submit for publication.

 

Here are her instructions

 

http://allissnakes.blogspot.com/p/if-you-build-it-they-will.html

 

 

 

 

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We have a "pond" set up in our side yard. I will make sure we start observing it more systematically. Our "challenge" is that the space is relatively exposed. We have planted some ferns, but I think we will need more.

Please let me know what type of data to collect.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited because my phone is ridiculous. 

Edited by mommymonster
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You can PM them to me and I can add them. DD does a lot of stuff for her local group through FB, so that's why she tends to list it as the primary channel.

 

The mosquito dunks seem to work quite well here, and are what is generally recommended by multiple sources as being both ecologically sound for other animals, and still being effective. For a pool this size, one complete disc per month is enough. I also have the bits, which we use in any standing water, including mud puddles. The frogs don't seem to suffer for us removing that particular food source, and I have NO desire to feed mosquitoes. In some areas, this is what they spray for mosquitoes as well, but it's still a good idea to treat the water.

 

FWIW, we actually swabbed the mosquito dunk and grew the bacteria in a petri dish, and yes, they're there, live, and there are a lot of them. Which wasn't, by the way, the case when we tried to grow the stuff inside an expensive probiotic capsule. I'm hoping it's just that the conditions weren't right for the probiotic.

 

 

Edited by dmmetler
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We have a "pond" set up in our side yard. I will make sure we start observing it more systematically. Our "challenge" is that the space is relatively exposed. We have planted some ferns, but I think we will need more.

 

Please let me know what type

 

Frogs just seem to like nice overhanging plants that provide some cover. Last year, one of the ones they used the most was a giant scheffelera that we move outside for the summer, which is definitely NOT a native species around here. In general, anything that grows happily in your area will probably work fine.

 

If you can get duckweed or other water plants that grow in the pond, those help, too (we just brought a cup of the stuff back from a nearby wild pond to "Seed" our test ponds), but can make it hard to see eggs-we managed to miss a clutch of eggs last year until they hatched into tadpoles.

 

As far as data to collect, what we'd love to know is:

 

Where you are (not exact address, but Florida will have different frogs than Nebraska, so state/region within the state is helpful). Also, it's helpful to know how urban/suburban/rural your area is, and whether you've seen frogs in the past.

 

When the pond was placed/when observations began.

 

General layout/conditions (a photo may be the easiest way to document this)

 

what animals (frogs and others) are seen in or near the pond. What we do is just keep a notebook by a window where we can see the pond, and whoever looks outside and notes something writes it down along with date/time.  If you get eggs/tadpoles/frogs this would be noted here. 

 

If possible, what kind of frogs are they? If you can get a photo, we can probably figure it out on this side (if DD can't, her herpetology mentors probably can).

 

 

Edited by dmmetler
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We did something similar about 15 years ago.

We rigged up an old aquarium pump to pull water out of the pond and spray it back in continuously.  This eliminated the mosquito problem, YMMV.  However, we had to keep an eye out for shifts in where the water was spraying, since if it starts to spray out of the pond it will empty it over time.  We filled the pond and ran the sprayer for about a week before getting the tadpoles.  This aerated the water, got rid of all the chlorine, and also the wide spray made the water surface a little less transparent.  We put a stack of cleaned, spaced bricks in the middle, with river rocks on top of them.  This created some dark hidden spaces in the water, and dark and light spaces out of the water. 

 

We used a black plastic cement mixing plastic trough to get new water ready to compensate for evaporation.  We put the main pond in dappled shade, and the cement mixing trough in full sun, so the water there heated up and we felt that that would drive off the chlorine faster.  In general we filled this every 3-5 days, and let the water sit for two days, stirring it from time to time, before adding it to the main pond.

 

When we went to get the tadpoles, we also brought home a 5 gallon bucket mostly full of water from their stream, to help populate the main pond with microorganisms from the original habitat.  I don't know whether this worked or not, but it seemed like a good idea.  We bought tadpole and frog food from the pet store and put that in the pond every two days.  We also blanched lettuce and added that every two days. 

 

We collected tadpoles around this time of the year, since this is when most of the small native frogs have them.  If we had collected in the summer or fall, we would have gotten nothing but bullfrogs. 

 

We noticed that there were two kinds of tadpoles that we got--muddy black ones, and translucent ones. 

 

We did not see the translucent ones developing, but the muddy ones were neat to watch.  They started to grow legs and their tails shortened. 

 

The partial shade that our pond was in was given by a magnolia tree.  Sometimes its leaves fell into the pond, and we fished them out whenever we saw that, but despite that the water turned a bit brownish.  We felt like there wasn't anything more we could do to prevent that, and it did provide some camo.  We had stray cats and wild raccoons and possums in the area, and they would all have eaten the tadpoles if they could have caught them.  Unfortunately, when the tadpoles were almost developed, my husband took it into his head to clean out the whole system while DD and I were gone, as a 'favor' to us.  The tadpoles all disappeared that night.  I think they were all eaten.  So I think that the brown color of the pond was protective.

 

The remaining results were that we had brought back one small frog along with the tadpoles, and that lived happily in our yard for several years.  Also, it turned out that the translucent tadpoles were for native newts rather than frogs, and they established a newt colony in our backyard that lasted for at least 3-5 years, much to the delight of young visitors.  We made sure to make a muddy shady area every winter for them to bury themselves in.   This was really cool.

 

 

Edited by Carol in Cal.
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We're in Canada, still under 2 feet of snow (with another storm coming), so are definitely NOT ready to think about non-frozen ponds and frogs right away. My younger boys would love to join in on a frog study - especially with the international flavour!  We have another glitch; we have between 1 and 3 large dogs in our backyard at any given time, though there is an area we could block off so they can't access the pond.  Could we still be part of the study, or would we be too delayed and restricted?

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You can still be part of the study, and it's useful to have that information. In general, you want the pond set up and to have a chance to naturalize a bit (which yes, means getting a little mucky, some leaves/dirt at the bottom, etc) before the frogs start really actively moving/breeding.

 

According to the Frog Watch CA. site, Ontario frogs start being active in late March/early April and into May and June, and if you're farther north than that, it would probably be later still. What it would mean is that we just have data collected later. We actually have two families in Australia that are reporting results now.

 

https://www.naturewatch.ca/frogwatch/ontario/

 

 

The dogs would simply be a variation in conditions. Last year we had an Opossum take up residence, and I'm pretty sure he was eating some of our frogs ;).  It happens, and it's part of doing research.

 

 

 

 

 

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Yes, absolutely! It sounds like this is about the time of year the frogs come out of brumation for you, too. (After a quick google-we barely have scratched the surface of US species, let alone European ones!)

I don't have facebook and my PM on this board is dysfunctional and still waiting to repaired.

Could you send Tress a PM with a emailadres?

 

And may I forward the blog with the 'how to' to other Belgian/Dutch homeschool lists /forums?

 

I foresee a biology vocabulary enrichment in our home :D

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Message sent. Everyone, feel free to forward wherever you think is useful. The more data, from more conditions, the better, since the goal is really to come up with a model that homeschoolers can use to observe their native frog species in the "wild" through metamorphosis.

 

I'll make sure there are contact paths listed on the blog, too.

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I so want to do this, I'll talk with my husband tonight! I know he is going to object that we might attract the rat snake from next to us (occasionally shows up on our porch) if we have a ton of little snacks out back though...

 

Edit: Booooo.... I called him and he said NO WAY because he claims our yard is already overrun with frogs and other things like frogs... I pointed out they would be OUR frogs and the kids would love them, and he was unconvinced. We live next to a wetland/swamp.

Edited by tm919
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We want to do this but we have had bad luck with the kiddie pool attracting raccoons, which we do not want. Last year we had some macroinvertebrates and tadpoles in a kiddie pool and the raccoon ate almost everything that was visible.  Do you have any suggestions?  

 

ETA: I wonder if using the plant cover will help.  I just saw that.

 

For Jackie, I live in SW Ohio and we were just out on Sunday night looking for frogs and mole salamanders at the vernal ponds and there weren't even Spring Peepers yet. We did see one mole salamander.  I think it was just a bit too cold. But this is the time of year--so we are looking for multiple warm days and some more rain. Normally we see the peak time in March.

Edited by cintinative
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For Jackie, I live in SW Ohio and we were just out on Sunday night looking for frogs and mole salamanders at the vernal ponds and there weren't even Spring Peepers yet. We did see one mole salamander. I think it was just a bit too cold. But this is the time of year--so we are looking for multiple warm days and some more rain. Normally we see the peak time in March.

I think that knocks us out for this year.

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We will try to collect some data for the project.

 

DD20 has kept pools out for frogs for years. But I am pretty sure she will not be home this summer for more than a week or two.

 

She mostly gets Cope's Gray treefrogs (or something like that) - I do know that they are super loud and quite ugly, lol.

 

DD has some wading pools and some low-ish rain barrel type things that catch rainwater (the tree frogs prefer these) and one actual "water feature" that she needs to finish over spring break :glare:.  This year I was going to seriously up my duckweed production and co-opt her pools for duckweed and maybe an aquaponics trial run so it should work.

 

 

 

 

Georgia

 

 

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Toads seem to have Trouble in anything elevated. One of DD's side projects this year is that she's built embankments on one pond to see if it can attract toads. The other thing about toads is that they're very nocturnal-If you leave an outdoor light on at night, they'll probably cluster under it to eat insects attracted to it, but you may never see them during the day.

 

I'm not sure how to avoid raccoons. We had a possum who was attracted by the ponds last year, and I do think he may have had a frog or two for lunch.

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If you start in March, there will still be frogs breeding. Even here in TN, there are ones spawning into May and June, and we're quite a bit farther South. And even starting later can be useful to observe. DD started in June the first year and still got increased frog presence, just not tadpoles.

 

Anyway, we got warm enough to have peepers and chorus frogs calling on Saturday-and it's supposed to be below freezing with a possibility of snow by Thursday. Those poor little frogs must be SO confused!

 

ðŸ¸ðŸ¸ðŸ¸

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If you start in March, there will still be frogs breeding. Even here in TN, there are ones spawning into May and June, and we're quite a bit farther South. And even starting later can be useful to observe. DD started in June the first year and still got increased frog presence, just not tadpoles.

 

Anyway, we got warm enough to have peepers and chorus frogs calling on Saturday-and it's supposed to be below freezing with a possibility of snow by Thursday. Those poor little frogs must be SO confused!

 

ðŸ¸ðŸ¸ðŸ¸

Not sure how useful we'll be. We live in town, and won't be able to set up until the last week of March. But DD thinks this sounds like a bunch of fun and would love to be part of a research project, so we're in.

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We're in Indiana also and are going to try this. If we get any useful data, I'll be sure to pass it along.

 

So if the frog spawning happens in IN around March-ish, and the pool needs to be set up for a month first, does that mean I need to get it out soon? We're expecting a big snowstorm tomorrow, so it seems way too early to me, but I don't want to wait too long either.

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We are going to give this a try. Ds is VERY excited about it.

 

Will an automatic sprinkler cause a problem if it waters the pond? I told dh the instructions talked about leaving water sitting out for two days before adding it, but he seems to think the sprinkler water will be just like rain and that the frogs will like it.

 

We have raccoons this year for the first time. Hopefully that won't be an issue. I don't want to encourage more raccoons.

 

ETA: We're west coast Canada, so we will set it up this weekend.

Edited by Eagle
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As long as it's a small amount, it should be fine. The reason for letting water age is to get rid of chlorine, ans a small amount of chlorine won't hurt diluted in a lot of water. Realistically, a lot of people get frogs in their swimming pools, and the frogs usually don't die unless the pool is shocked, so a little sprinkler water shouldn't hurt.

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My oldest daughter is interested in trying to attract frogs/toads. Realistically, we haven't seen one in our yard in over 5 years, and that was because of a huge monsoon season. We live in NM. If we use well water, does it still need to sit a month? We're still researching when we can expect them. It apparently won't be too soon, since snow is currently falling...

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We're in Indiana also and are going to try this. If we get any useful data, I'll be sure to pass it along.

 

So if the frog spawning happens in IN around March-ish, and the pool needs to be set up for a month first, does that mean I need to get it out soon? We're expecting a big snowstorm tomorrow, so it seems way too early to me, but I don't want to wait too long either.

 

We are in SW Ohio and the frogs and Jefferson Salamanders are just coming out but it is supposed to be colder this week and then warm up this weekend. Not sure how that will affect the emergence.

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Her photos are great! 

 

We got some tadpoles from a friend last year and kept them in a large plastic shoebox, half-lidded, for several weeks.  We got to see their legs growing.  However, over the course of three nights they ALL disappeared!  I suspect they became a snack.

 

If we do this, how can we protect our tadpoles from predators?  We live in a city lot with a fenced back yard, but we see foxes in the neighborhood periodically and live near waterways.  We have glass lizards living in the yard.

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Cover objects will help a lot, as will letting the water naturalize a bit (i.e.-collect a layer of dirt and plant matter at the bottom so the tadpoles aren't as visible). That's also why duckweed or other water plants that spread over the surface is good, and overhanging plants. Unfortunately, it does also make the tadpoles harder to observe for you, too.

 

In Florida, your season is very long, so you're definitely not too late. I don't know if they've made it as far North as the panhandle, but FL has some introduced species, like the Cuban tree frog that basically breed all year round.

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A sample record sheet and excel spreadsheet have been added (I think I got the sharing set up so you should be able to open and download the spreadsheet. I'm on Office 2013). We also have the record sheet as a .pdf if anyone wants it that way.  We also set up an event on FB that should make it easier for people to share pictures if they wish to use it-it's linked in the blog as well.

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Alex is in!

Daddy dragged out last years wading pool and filled it with water this morning. It is in an area underneath a huge tree overgrown with ivy and vegetation, Alex's 'secret garden' area. I ordered mosquito dunks and bits as that is our biggest concern being in Texas with the Zika virus.

We will pick up some duckweed and the like tomorrow. Alex wants lily pads. We shall see:)

Edited by Kerileanne99
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Lily pad bulbsare usually available at pet stores here. You'll need to either put some dirt in the bottom of your pond or sink a flowerpot of dirt because they need to root (duckweed doesn't). I think they have to be planted after last freeze.

 

Mosquito fish are another possibility for frog-friendly mosquito control, but unlike the frogs, they don't sprout legs and leave, so you have to be committed to keeping them long-term. Here, the local mosquito control program gives them away for folks to put in garden ponds.

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  • 3 weeks later...

This thread inspired my family to make a frog pond. My husband wouldn't let me do a wading pool though, so we're doing this:

Our hole is dug and the last of the materials arrived this morning.

 

Any tips for fish that eat mosquitos but not tadpoles? We have a major mosquito problem here (I get bites year round, no matter what natural or chemical repellent I try -summoning mosquitos is my superpower), so we were thinking we'd put frogs, dunks, and fish in the pond.

 

Ruth

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Mosquito fish. (Gambesa-there are western and eastern subspecies). In my area you can actually get some from the city for mosquito control for backyard ponds. They shouldn't be used in anything connected to natural water because they can become invasive, but for man made ponds, they're a good option. You may need to supplement them, especially if you also have tadpoles at the same time, because they're voracious feeders.

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Bumping for anyone who didn't see this the first time around.

 

Also, where are people finding wading pools? I looked in a couple places and the stores around me don't seem to have them out yet.

Pet stores tend to have them out earlier than Target. Here, Target/Walmart will start really putting out summer stuff as soon as Easter is over, but Petsmart has had them out since January.

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Our local government had never even heard of mosquito fish. On the plus side, now they know. :)

 

I've read in a few places that mosquito fish eat tadpoles and don't eat that many mosquitos anyway. Are rosy red minnows any more discriminatory?

 

Ruth

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