It is 28 degrees outside right now, so I guess the long, hot Indian Summer is finally over in the Ozarks. This feels like a good time to say goodbye to all of the cool creatures that provided me with so much enjoyment, and encourage everyone to enhance the habitat of property. Check out a post a did a while back on how we built a frog pond and then look below to see the progression of a very special piece of backyard wildlife habitat.
The frogs are the focus of the pond, so we are very careful to make sure we don’t put anything in the water which may harm amphibians. Slime or insect control agents are all toxic to amphibians, even though they are listed was safe for fish. During the hot summer months algae can dominate a pond, which will rob the water of sufficient dissolved oxygen which is needed for developing tadpoles. A pond needs to have 70% of the pond covered in underwater plants, and 70% of the surface covered in floating plants like lilies and lotus. Aquatic plants compete with algae for nutrients and sunlight, and provide oxygen to the water. We also do not use toxic mulch (treated), or cedar mulch mulch which can be toxic to amphibians. We never ever use insecticides or herbicides (like roundup!) as the skin of amphibians is extremely porous. We did not put fish in the pond, as they will eat frog eggs.
In addition to frogs, a pond will attract other creatures such as snakes, turtles, lizards, insects and birds- especially during hot dry periods. We have seen several snakes, and a baby snapping turtle showed up this spring! We will relocate the turtle when it gets larger next year because a large snapping turtle may try to dig into the bottom and tear our pond liner.
One of my goals when I am guiding expeditions for Natural Habitat is to instill a love, appreciation and understanding of our natural world in our travelers. I always communicate to them that their experience in an exotic land can be brought right home into their backyard. Even less than an acre of land can be optimized to attract wildlife, which helps conserve biodiversity, and can provide endless hours of enjoyment, observation and photography opportunities. Plant native plants, make your yard bird-friendly, build a frog pond… Be a good steward of your land!
Keep learning and exploring! and join your local frogwatch chapter!