Importance As An Indicator Species
Frogs have permeable skin that allows liquids and gasses to easily pass through. This gives them the ability to breathe and drink through their skin. It also means that whatever is in the environment is easily absorbed as well. If an environment is contaminated with pollutants, the frog's health will suffer.
Living on land and in the water exposes them to two different environments. For that reason, frogs are the primary species scientists study when assessing an ecosystem in order to ascertain its health or pollution.
Importance In The Food Chain
As both predator and prey, frogs and toads play an important role in the food chain. Removing them from an ecosystem results in a very big impact on many other species. As tadpoles, they feed on algae, keeping the water clean. Adult frogs have a voracious appetite for insects, which helps to control bug populations. Frogs are also a food source for numerous animals such as fish, snakes and birds.
What Are The Differences Between Frogs And Toads?
Although they look alike, there are key differences between toads and frogs. Both are amphibian, but toads have dry, bumpy skin. They spend most of their time on land. In winter, they hibernate below the frost line. Frogs have moist, smooth skin and spend more time in or near water. They will venture into grassy areas to find food.
They both feed on insects such as grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, grubs, cutworms, slugs, and many others that threaten your garden. A single frog can eat more than 100 insects in a night. Additionally, using frogs and toads to manage pest problems is better for your plants than toxic pesticides.
How To Attract Toads And Frogs To Your Garden
If you don't see frogs and toads in your yard, you may need to make your garden and surrounding areas more attractive to them.
A water feature on or near your property will usually assure a good population of frogs and toads. If you don’t see any, there are things you can do to attract them:
- Stop using garden chemicals including pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizers which can poison frogs and toad.
- Practice organic gardening.
- Build healthy soil.
- Companion plant.
- Practice crop rotation.
- Create shelters for them. Because they are nocturnal, they like hiding places out of the sun to prevent dehydration. They prefer damp, shady areas and shelters where they can hide from predators. Build a small cave from stones, partially cover a hole with an upside down clay or ceramic flower pot. Locate these shelters in shady areas of your garden. It's easy to create your own frog abode with items you probably already have such as a clay flower pot. In addition, this provides a fun and educational garden project for children.
- Offer water. Toads and frogs don’t drink through their mouths; they sit in water and absorb it. Place shallow containers of water in the shade near shelter. Rinse the containers at least once a week and refill them with fresh water.
One frog or toad can consume up to 10,000 pests during a gardening season. A friendly environment will encourage them to return year after year.
Do They Really Cause Warts?
Even though touching frogs and toads cannot give you warts, in some cases it can be dangerous. Certain toads and frogs secrete toxins as a defense mechanism. These can cause intense pain if you come in contact with them. One golden poison frog (Phyllobates terribilis) produces enough toxins to kill 10 grown men which makes them one of the most poisonous animals alive today.
(photo of golden poison frog by Wilfried Berns [CC BY-SA 2.0 de (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/de/deed.en])