As 2015 winds to an end, so too must our Virginia is for Frogs campaign and Frog Friday. Throughout the course of the year, we profiled all 28 species of Virginia’s native frogs, showcasing the diversity of frogs inhabiting the Commonwealth. Not only are these frogs fascinating to observe, but we are very fortunate to have them living around us. Frogs provide valuable pest control services by consuming countless insects, they are an important food source for a variety of other wildlife, and they are excellent indicators of our environmental health and water quality. In this final Frog Friday article, we’ve summarized all of the many simple actions you can take to help Virginia’s frogs thrive in 2016 and beyond.
How to Help Frogs and other Amphibians
Protect Water Quality – Clean water is critically important to healthy frog populations.
- Reduce your use of pesticides and fertilizers. – When it rains, these chemicals wash off of lawns and gardens and travel into waterways and wetlands where they can contaminate frog habitat even miles away from your home.
- Responsibly dispose of unused medications. – Septic systems and most wastewater treatment plants can not remove pharmaceutical chemicals from the water, so eventually they enter aquatic habitats where they’ve been found to have adverse impacts on the health of frogs, fish and other aquatic wildlife. For safe disposal practices, refer to FDA.gov.
- Avoid purchasing personal care products containing plastic microbeads. – Once these tiny beads wash down the drain, they eventually enter our waterways where they accumulate chemical pollutants on their surfaces and may be consumed by fish and other wildlife that mistake them for food.
- Pick up pet waste. – Just as pesticides and fertilizers can wash away into streams and wetlands after it rains, so too can the bacteria and viruses found in pet waste.
Never Release Pet Frogs (or any other animal) Into the Wild – The release of a disease infected pet into the wild can have catastrophic impacts. The spread of the deadly fungus, “chytrid,” as well as ranavirus and other amphibian diseases, has largely been attributed to the international trade of amphibians as pets. While it hasn’t appeared to be a problem in Virginia, chytrid, is one of the primary causes of amphibian population declines worldwide.
Enhance Frog Habitat
- Create a frog pond. – Most frog species are dependent upon some form of water to carry out their lifecycles. It’s where they lay their eggs and where their tadpoles develop into adults. Find out how to build your own frog pond here.
- Create a rain garden, full of native plants. – Rain gardens provide habitat for frogs and other wildlife and keep local waterways healthy by filtering the chemical pollutants found in stormwater runoff. Find out how to build your own rain garden here.
- Leave Your Leaves – Some species of terrestrial frogs seek out leaf litter as a place to hibernate over winter. By keeping fall leaves on the ground, instead of bagging them up and tossing them, you may be helping to provide local frogs a winter hibernating spot.
Participate in Citizen Science. – Knowing where various species of frogs are found in Virginia can help guide conservation and land management decisions. You can contribute to this knowledge by volunteering for the Virginia Frog and Toad Calling Survey or FrogWatch USA. Or simply record your own frog observations into the Virginia Wildlife Mapping project.
Contribute to DGIF’s Non-Game Fund to support the conservation of frogs and other non-game wildlife in Virginia.
Continue Learning about Frogs and Sharing Your Knowledge with Others. – Find more information about frogs at our Virginia is for Frogs webpage. Lesson plans and activities for educators can be found in the Virginia is for Frogs Teacher’s Corner, which now features a new frog listening lesson plan!
A Look Back at Some Images from the Virginia is for Frogs Campaign
Virginia is for Frogs exhibit booth at the Virginia Living Museum. August 8, 2015. Virginia Master Naturalists who attended the April training assisted at the exhibit booth to share information about Virginia’s native frogs and the campaign. Children were also engaged in viewing live frogs and a frog coloring activity.
Members of the Historic Rivers Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists who attended the April Virginia is for Frogs training, worked with York County High School students to create this frog pond on the school’s grounds.
Virginia is for Frogs training for the Virginia Master Naturalists. April 1, 2015. Master Naturalists who attended the training later volunteered to educate others about frogs and the Virginia is for Frogs campaign or work on frog habitat projects.
Virginia is for Frogs exhibit booth at the Virginia Association of Science Teachers Professional Development Institute. In addition to the exhibit booth, a Virginia is for Frogs session was held where a presentation on Virginia’s native frogs and how schools can help them was delivered to approximately 45 teachers and a frog listening lesson plan was distributed.
This article is presented as part of our year-long Virginia is for Frogs campaign. Please visit the campaign webpage to learn more about Virginia’s 28 frog species and ways that you can become involved in their conservation. Are you an educator? Check out the Virginia is for Frogs Teacher’s Corner for frog-related lesson plans and activities.