Frogs are some interesting critters. Some people race them for sport, others cook them, and some are at risk of croaking at the mere sight of one. But as ribbiting as old faerie tales involving these amphibians might be for kids, most adults have no desire to see one taking up residence in their backyard.
Here’s everything you need to know about frogs and how to get rid of frogs quickly from your yard, pool, or garden.
Getting to Know Frogs
As you probably already know, frogs are amphibians which begin their lives underwater. As they grow older, they develop legs, lose their tails, and gain the ability to breathe air. While a few invasive species such as the Cuban tree frog (Osteopilus septentrionalis) are poisonous, most native frog species found in the US are harmless.
There are thousands of frog species living in most parts of the world. Some species are so small they can fit on a fingernail! Love them or hate them, frogs are fascinating little critters that will always have our attention.
Frog Life Cycle
Just about everyone knows that frogs start their lives as tadpoles, but the transformation is a lot more complex than it first seems. It’s a good idea to cover all of the changes a frog goes through to get a better idea of their needs, preferences, and weaknesses.
Frogs most commonly lay their eggs in clusters, preferring still water to the cluster isn’t pulled apart. Agitating the water during this stage of the life cycle may result in destroying some eggs or discouraging frogs from laying their eggs in that location.
One the eggs have hatched, the resulting tadpoles begin feeding off of whatever’s in their surroundings. Tadpoles have rasping mouthparts instead of teeth. Depending on the species, these may be optimized for plants, insects, or even plankton. The tadpoles will eventually develop legs and their tails will shrink into nothingness. Their mouth structure will also change, developing a row of teeth in the upper jaw.
Exceptions to the Rule
There’s one other thing they don’t teach in schools about the frog life cycle. Some species of frogs are what we commonly refer to as toads. Much like mice and rats, there’s no official scientific distinction between a frog and toad.
However, toads add quite a few exceptions to the rule. For example, some frogs lay their eggs on land. Others give live births. And some species of toads will completely skip the tadpole phase. We’ll stalk more about toads later.
You may have learned as a child that frogs have to live by water, but this isn’t always the case. Of the 5,000 known species worldwide, some remain aquatic while others dwell in trees. A few species even live in the desert, hibernating during the dry season!
As their diet is based almost entirely on insects such as flies, mosquitoes, moths, and even May beetles, once they reach adulthood, frogs prefer marshy or muddy areas to large bodies of water. This is one reason you’ll most often find them invading your property after a heavy rain.
Related: How to Get Rid of Cluster Flies
What Do Frogs Eat?
Frogs are some of the least picky eaters. They’re most often carnivores, and like toads, will eat just about anything that fits in their mouth.
Even baby frogs eat a variety of foods but some are limited to algae or plankton since they don’t have any teeth in their upper jaws like adult frogs.
Benefits of Frogs
Frogs are crucial to insect population control. Unlike bats, you’re not likely to run into a rabid frog, so they’re much safer to have around. They’re also an important paleo meat, providing low-fat, omega-3 rich deliciousness (so long as you know they were farm-raised).
In the garden, frogs can be highly beneficial (although you may still want to deter frogs from getting in your garden). Their love of insects and grubs gives you a natural pest control method. Unlike many other natural bug controllers, they don’t harm plants and their protein-rich droppings can help enrich the soil for certain plants.
Frog vs Toad
There are actually quite a few differences between these two critters, despite toads being technically a type of frog. However, centuries of distinctions made in both folklore and pop culture have resulted in toads being unofficially regarded as their own type of amphibian.
Here are just a few of these differences:
- Legs: Toads have shorter, stubbier legs than their kin.
- Ova: Frogs lay their eggs in clusters, while toads tend to lay eggs in chains or even give live births.
- Skin: Frogs have smooth skin which can feel slimy to the touch, while toads have dry, bumpy skin (which contributed to the myth that touching a toad causes warts).
- Teeth: While rarely considered, frogs actually have vomerine teeth located in the upper jaw.
- Taste: While both species are edible, frogs (specifically the bullfrog) are preferred in culinary circles.
- Water: Frogs thrive in a moist or swampy environment, whereas toads are better adapted to dry climates.
Note that it can be easy to mistake a bullfrog for a toad. These big, plump frogs have bumpier skin than other frogs and the African variant actually has ridges along its back. One easy way to distinguish them from toads is the hint of yellow on their upper lip which is shaped as though they’re wearing lipstick.
Why do Frogs Croak at Night?
Frogs have two major reasons for croaking: attracting a mate and warning other frogs to stay out of their territory. Bullfrogs can be especially loud croakers. A major part of the reason they reserve their calls for nighttime (beyond the more romantic mood lighting) is the fact that their position becomes exposed to predators.
Whether they attract a female with great legs or become lunch for a couple hungry hooters is often down to blind luck, but at least nighttime calls can reduce the number of potential predators.
How to Get Rid of Frogs
As useful as frogs can be, their midnight croaking can be highly disruptive. Add to that, tree frogs leave a lot of feces around that resembles rat droppings, and those droppings can end up all over your nice white siding.
Whether you’re dealing with one of these symptoms or merely don’t like the idea of amphibians taking up residence in your’s, there are plenty of ways to remove these critters from the property.
Frogs in the Yard
The good news is that getting frogs out of the yard will also get rid of many other pests. This is because frogs need food and shelter – the same shelter their food needs, interestingly enough.
Here are a few things that affect how inviting your yard is to frogs and what you can do about each:
- Grass and Weeds – Frogs love a good grassy bungalow, and not just for shelter. Tall grasses can attract a number of bugs, from grasshoppers to spiders. Keep the greenery low, and you can deprive a frog of both shade and snacks. Don’t forget to remove any debris while you’re at it.
- Night Lights – A drunkard always knows which bar is open by looking to see if the lights are on. Likewise, When a frog notices your porch or garden lights at night, he knows he can hop on in to indulge in the bug of his choice. A dark garden tells both bugs and frogs that the bar is closed for the night.
- Snakes in a Yard! – A good snake repellent can help keep garter snakes out of the yard (and even dangerous snakes like copperheads or rattlesnakes) and is pretty safe compared to most chemical repellents. The great part is that reptiles and amphibians share quite a few traits, so the repellent is also somewhat effective against frogs.
- Stagnant Water – Stagnant or swampy water is a welcome sight for frogs. Not only does it provide a place to lay their eggs, it also means there’ll be a lot of tasty insects, such as mosquitos. Drain, remove, or fill in any stagnant water sources to get rid of a major pest amenity.
Keep in mind that most any damp area in your yard (even your septic system) can be hospitable to frogs. Keeping frogs out of your septic tank and even your toilet is a real concern if there is access for them.
Frogs in a Pond
It can be really annoying to feel like you have to choose between your backyard pond and being frog free, but there’s really a simple solution that lets you have your cake and eat something other than frog legs too.
Simply add a circulation pump or water filter so the pond water isn’t stagnant. Not only will this discourage frogs from laying eggs, it can also deter mosquitos and other tasty frog snacks. Most occupying frogs will leave of their own accord soon after the pond water becomes active.
Frogs in a Pool
It’s important to ensure the water pump is working properly and to keep the pool cover on when it’s not in use. However, when frogs do get into the pool, there are a few things you can do.
Frogs have sensitive skin and are less likely to hang our in a properly chlorinated pool. Treating the pool regularly will also kill any eggs or tadpoles. In some instances, the frogs may die while in the pool water.
In these cases, you can simply use your pool skimmer or a net to scoop up any frogs or frog eggs that still manage to get into the water.
See Also: 11 Types of Swimming Pool Bugs
While they seem very different from ground frogs, you can get rid of tree frogs using many of the same methods. Locate their abode by checking nearby trees for piles of feces or groups of flies.
You can use glue strips to catch frogs as they drop down (vegetable oil will allow you to safely remove the frog for relocation a mile or more away). Killing the bug infestation will also go a long way towards eliminating the tree frog population, as they’ll migrate to better feeding grounds.
How to Kill Frogs
We never condone killing a potentially beneficial critter, but we also know there are some times when population control is an issue. Frogs, much like rabbits and other common species, can multiply rapidly and create environmental imbalance due to the reduction of natural predators. Here are a few tips for when extermination is a necessity.
Identify Your Frog (important)
While most frogs aren’t on a watch list, several species are protected or endangered. Be sure to identify the frog you want to get rid of and check local ordinances before attempting an extermination.
Tadpoles need water to survive. You can remove them from your pond with a standard aquarium net. Lay them on the sidewalk and they will dry out and die. Young tadpoles can be buried to suffocate them, as their lungs have not yet developed.
This is by far the most humane way to kill a frog. You’ll need to catch the frog first, but once you do, place it into a tupperware with air holes poked into it. Put this in your fridge overnight.
As they are cold-blooded, this will put them into a state of hibernation. Transfer the container to your freezer and leave it there for 24 hours. The cold will kill the frog without them ever being aware of what’s happening.
One of our least favorite inventions, the common mousetrap is undoubtedly effective against all manner of unsuspecting prey. You can lay these out to snap a frog’s neck and possibly kill other small prey as well.
Note, however, that these devices make for a brutal way to die. They can also seriously injure pets or small children. As a result, this method should always be used as a last resort.
Sometimes the old ways are the best ways, and we’re really big fans of household remedies. The following are a few solutions that use common household products for a more eco- (and wallet) friendly solution.
Related: Keeping Frogs Out of Your Home
Does Salt Kill Frogs?
This is a bit of an old wives’ tale and a potentially nasty one at that. Salt will cause discomfort to frogs and may convince them to go elsewhere, but it won’t kill them. Unfortunately, it WILL kill nearby plants and taint the soil, so we suggest saving salt for the table.
A much better alternative is to take your used coffee grounds and sprinkle those instead. This natural frog repellent can cause the same discomfort, but has valuable nitrates that will enrich the soil and feed your plants. Just be careful not to put too much near acidic-sensitive plants.
Salad Dressing as Repellent
Vinegar and lemon juice are both excellent organic repellents that work against a wide range of pests, including frogs. Simply mix equal parts of either with water and put in a spray bottle to squirt wherever frogs are known to congregate. The acids will leave frogs hopping, but can also damage sensitive plants, so be careful where you spray it.
How to Keep Frogs Away
There are two key ways to keep frogs off your property once you’ve gotten rid of the current invaders. These methods are very simple and will also help protect your yard from a number of other pests. Note that these methods can also help against a number of other pests.
Your Swimming Pool
While they prefer swampy areas, your swimming pool can become very attractive when the conditions are right. This is especially true if the pool isn’t in use, as the water has a chance to stagnate or a drained pool collects rainwater.
Keeping the pool covered and drained when not in use are the best ways to keep the pool frog free. Having a circulation pump will also help during pool season, as the moving water will deter insects looking for a place to lay their eggs.
Of course, sometimes covering the pool isn’t an option, especially when summer’s at its hottest. That’s why using a product such as the popular FrogLog can become important.
- [HIGHLY EFFECTIVE] Allows animals to easily escape to safety when accidentally...
- [CRITTER SAVING DEVICE] Critter saving escape ramp for Frogs Toads Salamanders...
- [EASY SET-UP] Simple design makes for an easy set-up, assembly, and placement...
While still a new product, Critter Clear is another anti-drowning tool that shows a lot of promise and seems to work great for a wider range of critters than the aforementioned FrogLog. Where it differs from the competition is that it also prevents frogs and other critters from being sucked into the skimmer completely.
These products are designed to give frogs and similar critters a way out of the water before they drown (remember, chlorine can have nasty effects on frogs, who are normally great swimmers).
See Also: How to Get Water Bugs Out of Your Pool
Once you’ve gotten rid of any frogs infesting the yard, it’s easy to keep them from your yard or garden. Keeping the grass short and the area free of debris is a great way to discourage a variety of pests, including frogs.
Snake repellent or a chicken wire fence (be sure to extend it a foot or so underground!) can both provide an effective barrier. Finally, introducing natural predators such as cats (be sure the frogs are non-poisonous!), hawks, and owls.