Seasonally wet areas of your yard are breeding grounds for our native frogs and toads.

The rain may have made parts of your yard wet for the last few weeks but this is good for our native insect eating amphibians. Just two weeks of standing water will provide the tadpoles of several species of frogs and toads enough time to grow to adulthood. Tadpoles eat algae and the adults eat lots of mosquitoes and other insects.

The cacophony of calls at night is fun to listen to and teaches kids the value of preserving even the smallest of wetlands. Fortunately the giant bufo toad and the Cuban tree frog don’t use short-lived wetlands for breeding. Both of these introduced species eat our native frogs. When was the last time that you saw a green tree frog?

The corner of your yard that floods can be planted with duck potato, spartina grass, blue flag iris and yellow canna lilies. These will provide hiding places for the tadpoles, and beautiful flowers for you. After a heavy rain, several species of frogs and toads will come here. These include: the green and the squirrel tree frogs, Florida cricket frog, little grass frog, southern chorus frog, and eastern narrow-mouthed frog which has a bleating call like a sheep.

The toads will fill the air with a mixture of funny sounds. These include: the eastern spadefoot toad with a low-pitched crow-like call; the smallest North American toad, the one and a quarter inch oak toad, which has a high-pitched whistle; and my favorite, the southern toad. This fellow has a high-pitched trill, which at close range makes the insides of my ears rattle. He can be told apart from a young giant toad by the two knobby crests on his head, a light stripe down the middle of his back and the way that he hops a few times and then stops. The giant toad hops quickly until it finds cover and has very large poison glands on both sides of its head. I dispose these large toads whenever I see them. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians is a great identification book.

It can be a real adventure to go out at night with a flashlight and identify frogs and toads that are breeding in your flooded areas. Kids will love it. These amphibians are just the start of the food chain that leads to good snakes, hawks, owls and other interesting creatures. Why fight wet areas of the yard with drainage pipes, fill or ditches? Wet areas can be the most interesting places in the yard and offer hours of exploration time for curious kids.