Monday, February 15, 2010

The Newbies

Give a warm welcome to the newest members of our family who were laid about two weeks ago. They are not warm and fuzzy. They are not pretty or cute. They are not adorable...YET. Just wait. When the baby's emerge from the pond I guarantee that you will utter a big "Aaawww...."


No, they are not worms.


What species are you thinking???


I am sure this is no help and some of you are all, "Ewe and ick!!!!" Suck it up and be a biologist for just a second ladies (and gents).


Now here's a close up of the eggs. These are amphibians. Warty amphibians...

These are western toad (Bufo boreas) eggs.


I pulled these eggs from the seasonal drainage that runs through our property. The creek drys out and will not be inundated long enough to support the full development of tadpoles to adults. From here they enter the pond which I will fill with water throughout their development.


After they emerge from their slime tube they look like this in their larval stage. Their little tails are visible and they hug the bottom of the pond sucking algae and microscopic stuff.


Now for the "evil guy" music....

I found these creatures living in my pond after the first storm. They are bull frogs... NON-NATIVE species which EAT native tadpoles and frogs. They grow to preposterous sizes consuming all in their path, leaving a wake of destruction.

They look all cute with their beady eyes and pretty green patterns BUT they are major predators who have been responsible for the decimation of native species, pushing some, like the red-legged frog, to the brink of extinction.

(Just to clarify...bull frogs are native to the eastern US so don't go hating on your native frogs east of the Rockies. They just disturb the western ecosystems.)

Thus they must be removed and taken care of. In a Mafia kind of way. Hmmm, I guess I could always have some frog legs for dinner. I had one in my net last night and he JUMPED out!! How dare he!!! I will get these before they have a chance to reproduce.


And when the western toad babies can swim freely without the threat of being eaten by a bull frog, the rainbows will arc across the sky and tones of Vivaldi will float over our property.


Well maybe not, but at least I know I've done something to perpetuate the regeneration of native toad species in our area. So many wetlands have been lost to development and it is harder for these amphibians to reproduce and survive in our man-influenced environment.

Every little bit helps.

25 Comments for OSL:

Suzi said...

The boys love coming out and checking on the status of the eggs, as well as collecting them and transplanting them to the pond.

The Mind of a Mom said...

Ohhh I so had the ewwwwww snake factor until you said that I was wrong, then it became cool!

Doris Sturm said...

So where did the bullfrogs come from, Julie? Who put them there? And aren't froglegs taken from bullfrogs? If you have to destroy them mafia style, then you might as well use the legs or else they will have died in vain...

Karen said...

Good luck with your quest. I had no idea the hard work this must entail.

Melodie said...

Good for you!!!!!Got to get rid of the evil frogs! I remember having fun as a kid watching tadpoles develop! Frog legs are quiet yummy...yeah it's true..we'll eat just about anything around here!

Ms Snarky Pants said...

I actually kinda love Bullfrogs hehehe However, I'm pretty sure they're native here. Or at least where I grew up as I've never actually seen them around here. Good for you eliminating the encroaching non-natives. hehehe Hey wait...that kinda sound a little like xenophobia froggy style. LOL

Mel said...

Good for you for standing up for the little (native) guy!

Grand Pooba said...

I honestly didn't even know what I was looking at in the first picture. A rope??

That is ca-razy!! So cool lookin close up. I didn't realize there was a Frog Mafia.

Miss Dot said...

OK I'll admit I was seriously creeped out wondering what those weird slimy things were. How cool!! And yikes, Julia! I had no idea you were such a Mafioso!! You kinda scare me a little bit...

Carol said...

This is so interesting and important Julia! Good luck with those bull frogs! May there be hundreds of rainbows and notes of Vivaldi spewing from your gardens! ;>)

lee said...

At our local ranch the big pond was drained a couple of years ago to eradicate the bullfrogs. Last summer a couple of teenage boarders decided to set free their frogs in the newly restored pond. Guess what - bullfrogs. Outrageous. Bad for the frogs and baby water fowl.

MObugs said...

I always thought bullfrogs were native in Missouri, perhaps some enterprising midwesterner transported them to your region :o(
We have a goldfish pond in our back yard that sings with chorus of these loud, large, boisterous frogs each summer. I actually don't mind them, and they don't seem to be out of balance, of course that could be due to the fact that we have a resident garter snake and black snake that regularly dine on the frogs....LOL
The pond is never dull, there always seems to be a life and death struggle playing out right before your eyes. I agree with some of the others, frog legs are delicious!

ga.farmwoman said...

We have so many frogs at the ponds here. I love hearing their croaking sounds late in the evenings.
I have to admit I was a tomboy growing up and loved playing with tadpoles and frogs.
Good for you on helping to regenerate the frog population in your area!

Holly, the Ol' Western Gal said...

Thought you were raising eels, almost fainted there.

Well, those poor old bullfrogs...since you mentioned the Mafia...perhaps they can go into the witness protection plan and be relocated to an entirely new area, instead of an entirely new plane of existence???

Got to remember I'm talking to a ruthless woman with a freezer full of dead chickens...

Rural Rambler said...

Good on you Julia! Get those western toad babies all safe and happy in your pond and do what you gotta do with those non-native bull frogs. I used to love lady bugs, the real ones. Now the imposter Asian Lady Beetles have all but ruined the real lady beetle population in Missouri. Now we just have the imposters and they invade our house and all our out buildings and leave orange ugly stinky trails all over everything they touch. Shudder.

karenscarvie said...

"I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority."

So said E. B. White
US author & humorist (1899 - 1985)

For respecting and honoring the "seniority" and wisdom of nature we thank you.

Ratty said...

They are in the process of getting rid of non-native plants in all of my local nature parks. So I understand this very well. Those bullfrogs are better off in their own home, where things are more balanced.

San-Dee said...

gotta say I'm with you on this one! When I worked at UCD we had a seasonal pond outside the ecology building, and the girls loved following the growth of the the little guys and gals from tadpoles to adults.

I think froglegs are a little too salty, but you could probably find someone (or thing0 to eat them......

Robyn Jones said...

I tried to think like a biologist for a minute...but it just didn't work...I was doing ok till my one year old threw up all over my feet...LOL!

My son hasn't quite reached the "I think toads are cute stage.."

Sara said...

We have lots of bull frogs. Didn't realize there was a Frog Mafia. Should totally go on your resume! :D Great pictures!

Vixen/Apron Frenzy said...

One of your coolest posts ever. I am definitely a science geek.

Aunt Spicy said...

Gross. Just gross.

Pricilla said...

You Western folk keep trying to eradicate us Eastern folk.
Hmmm.
I did not bring the bullfrogs with me. I promise.

Life Ramblings said...

yikes, those long, thin slimy worm-like thing give me the creeps.

Sharkbytes said...

Very interesting. I didn't know the bullfrogs were a problem in your area. Our american toad eggs are in curlique strings like a slinky keychain.