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Frogs and Salamanders

IImage of an adult American bullfrogFrogs and salamanders are common in the wetlands of South Carolina and may find your community's stormwater ponds to be a suitable place to reside and reproduce. Following rainstorms and in summer evenings, the stormwater pond may light up with a chorus of frogs that may number in the hundreds or even thousands. While many residents find these amphibians to be attractive, other members of the community may become annoyed by the noise or the feces they may deposit on the siding of the home. Others still may be concerned that these animals are poisonous and a threat to pets and children.

Are amphibians bad?
No. Amphibians, frogs or salamanders, do not pose a significant management problem for ponds. In fact, their presence should be valued. Frogs and salamanders are often referred to as "environmental indicators" because they are sensitive to pollution in the environment. Being that they spend part of their lives in the water, frogs and salamanders are dependent on having good water quality. As water quality deteriorates, so do their populations. If your pond has a loud chorus of frogs, that should be taken as a sign that the quality of the water is at least good enough to sustain them. Because they are more sensitive to pollution than humans or even fish, the presence of large numbers of frogs indicates that the aquatic ecosystem of the pond is not impaired by pollution that could affect human health. Also, frogs are voracious predators of insects, so they provide a natural control for nuisance insect populations.

Do amphibians cause any problems?
Tree frogs are notorious for leaving feces on siding, especially around lights at night where they are catching insects. Likewise, toads will do the same on the ground on the porch or deck below outside lights. This problem is easily remedied with a hose or pressure washer, except with stucco siding, which may require some extra care. Also, some salamanders and toads do excrete mild toxins from their skin. The toxins are not significant enough to affect human health, but it is advised that residents avoid handling these animals. If they are handled, residents should wash their hands thoroughly. Dogs that pick-up toads in their mouths may develop foamy saliva in response to a mild toxin that is secreted from glands behind the toad's eyes. This is a temporary condition that does not cause long-term damage to the dog.  

Are there any ways to deter or control frogs?
Not really. There are no pesticides or repellents labeled for use against amphibians. The best way to reduce staining of the deck or siding is to turn the outside lights off during the time of highest insect activity, which is between 30 minutes before dark and 30 minutes after dark. Turning the lights off during this time will reduce the number of flying insects that are attracted to your home and reduce the potential for attracting frogs too.