Walking in a natural area is pleasant and calming. Over the past four weeks, I have tried to visit all the hiking spots near Annapolis and I like walking the trails that include ponds or creeks. The AllTrails app can help you find local public trails.
When I walk near a freshwater pond, I slow down and scan the water’s edge for frogs. I like to photograph them on land but, invariably I don’t find them there. But as I approach, I hear a high-pitched “errrp” and then the “kerplunk” of a frog hitting the water.
The most common pond frog is the green frog. They come in various shades of green, from dark green-brown to bright clover. Green frogs grow to be about four inches (eight with the legs extended). They are sometimes mistaken for bullfrogs but the green frog has an obvious ridge of skin on both sides of their bodies that extends from just above the eye to the base of their hind legs. Frogs have very sensitive skin and should not be handled much and if you have insect repellent on, you need to avoid touching them.
Although they can live several years, they have a rough life. It seems that everybody wants to eat them. They are a favorite target of heron, egrets and birds of prey like barred owls. Turtles, snakes and alligators eat them. Bass, catfish and pickerel eat them. Raccoons, foxes, minks, and otters all eat them. The species survives through the numbers.
In the spring, the females produce up to 7,000 eggs. The males fertilize the eggs as they are laid in water. The tadpoles that hatch have to avoid carnivorous insects like dragonfly nymphs and eventually grow legs and become full grown frogs. Very few of the original 7,000 eggs make it to maturity.
They are insectivores but unfortunately are not too good at eating mosquitoes.
I have encountered these frogs from Florida to Maine but they are not found in the western U.S. They like ponds with vegetation along the edge. Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens has lots of these frogs. They see a lot of human visitors and seem less afraid of being approached. Unfortunately, the garden is currently closed due to the pandemic.
Create a small fish pond in your yard and know that out of nowhere a green frog will show up.