waskington state lake images
  • WATERLINE - June, 2024

    Make your landscape a frog haven!

    Thanks to Dominick Leskiw of Snohomish County for permission to reprint his article from the spring 2024 LakeWise newsletter

    Juvenile Western Toad

    Frogs are fascinating animals that play an important role in our ecosystems. Frogs not only eat tons of insects – including those pesky mosquitoes – but they also serve as an important food source for birds, fish, snakes, and other wildlife. Since they breathe through their skin, frogs are particularly sensitive to changes in the environment, including pollution and toxins. This makes them great “indicator species” that serve as early warning signs of negative changes in the environment.

    If you live near a lake or stream or have wetlands around you, you have a special opportunity to help frogs. Like all amphibians, they need access to water on a regular or seasonal basis. The following are actions you can take to transform your property into a haven for frogs. The great thing is that many of these actions are also steps to be LakeWise – so help your lake and a frog!

    • Protect existing natural areas to the greatest extent possible. Protect woodlands, wetlands, meadows, stream corridors, shorelines, and other wildlife habitat on your property; encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same. You can also restore these habitats by re-planting native plants.
    • Maintain leaf litter, woody debris, and groundcovers. These materials provide moist hiding places, attract food, and stabilize loose earth. Not only is this good for frogs, but covering bare soils also helps reduces erosion, which in turn prevents phosphorus-rich soil particles from polluting local streams and lakes.
    • Practice Natural Yard Care to avoid herbicides and pesticides. These products contain harmful chemicals that frogs can absorb through their skin or by consuming contaminated food sources. These chemicals can also run off your property into local lakes, further polluting the areas where baby frogs mature. Natural yard and lawn care techniques are a great way to have a beautiful yard that is better both for amphibians and your family. Learn more on our Natural Yard Care webpage.
    • Leave some of your lawn or yard unmowed, particularly where it meets water or a forest corridor. If you need to mow these areas, do so at a low speed and don’t trim the grass very short. Using a weed-whacker is a good alternative, but in either case, be sure to watch out for any amphibians while you’re working and be ready to step on the brakes!
    • Create a LakeWise Healthy Shoreline! Frogs need lake or stream edges for breeding and cover. To make your shoreline frog-friendly, replace some of your shoreline lawn with a mix of shrubs, trees, or perennials, which provide cover and overhanging vegetation. These deeper-rooted plants also protect your shoreline from erosion and help clean and filter out pollution.

    If you live near a lake, stream or wetland, chances are you will likely find (or at least hear) these charismatic amphibians. Of the 13 frog and toad species found in Washington State, five live in western Snohomish County, as follows:

    Pacific Treefrog by Nancy Morrison; all other photos are from Burke Museum Amphibians & Reptiles of Washington

    Unfortunately, local frog populations are suffering due to lack of habitat, increasing pollution, and the introduction of invasive species such as American Bullfrogs.

    To learn more, check out the Washington Department of Wildlife’s webpage, Living with Frogs. For information on amphibian and reptile species in Washington, check out the Burke Museum.