Leap FROG | Daily News


This harmless amphibian is a boon to the ecosystem:
Polypedates Cruciger - Lankanectes Corrugatus-Nannophrys Ceylonensis
Polypedates Cruciger - Lankanectes Corrugatus-Nannophrys Ceylonensis

Amphibians are fascinating creatures that add beauty to the environment. Frogs and toads are very important for the ecosystem as they are a vital set of species for the food chain. Maybe what really endears them to us, is their unique qualities. All can breathe and absorb water through their very thin skin.

Green Thumbs speaks to Environmentalist, Influencer and Educator in Sustainability, Mega Ganeshan, on ‘Creating Microhabitats for Frog Spawning’.

For as long as we can remember, frogs have been a part of our history and culture. The book of Exodus in the Bible speaks of a plague of frogs unleashed upon the Egyptians by God. It is said that the frogs covered the whole land of Egypt. As children, Thumbelina is a tale most of us grew up with. In the fairy tale, Thumbelina written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, Thumbelina is abducted by a frog. More recently in popular fiction, the toad has been included in the storyline of ‘The Wind in the Willows’ and X-Men.

As frogs have different stages in life from an aquatic background to land during their lifespan, that itself provides food for a range of animals in the system.

“Therefore, they are very important in our gardens as they keep pests like mosquitoes at bay and are an asset to the garden. Also, frogs enable us to keep the garden more balanced and healthy. They are also a great climate indicator, indicating changes in the environment. So then we know something is different,” said Ganeshan.

She went onto explain that a ‘microhabitat’ is a smaller version of a habitat in a bigger ecosystem that is specific for one or more little creatures. Microhabitats encourage biodiversity to thrive by creating a lot of different habitats for animals and plants. Enriching ecosystems and creating great diversity, these microhabitats alter the air circulation, humidity, temperature, and exposure to light, among other determinants – in a sense the perfect conditions for frogs to thrive and be more easily maintained in a home garden.

Green Thumbs asked Ganeshan if, when spawning frogs, the process should be natural or if we (humans) should interfere in the process? How do we spawn frogs?

She replies: “It is always recommended that we do things naturally and not interfere with the natural process. We create the environment for the species to adapt and grow naturally. Of course, mating, spawning, and surviving in the natural environment is needed for a healthy population. So we create the microhabitat.”

“Attracting frogs into your backyard is not difficult. If you create the right conditions and habitat, the frogs will find their way. You may even have resident frogs already. Some simple ways to encourage frogs to visit or move in include building a frog pond, adapting an existing wet boggy corner, converting a fish pond, or modifying a water feature. Frogs found within our urban areas are most likely to be attracted to a well-structured garden or bushland area with thick leaf litter, ground cover, understory plants, shrubs, trees, moisture or ponded water, logs and branches and rocks.”

“A garden with these elements will provide a diverse and sheltered environment for a range of ground dwelling and tree frog species. In urban areas where this natural habitat is not always available, partially buried old terracotta flowerpots, ceramic pipes and garden mulch can be used as substitutes,” explained Ganeshan.

Frogs are one of the crucial links in the food chain. Acting as both prey and predators, frogs are important pest controllers and climate indicators, very important visitor to a home garden.

Another important question is when spawning frogs, are there types that can be spawned and types that cannot be spawned? Are some types of frogs poisonous?

Ganeshan says: “Well, frogs in Sri Lanka are not poisonous enough to kill people. Toads have glands that secrete toxins, but they are not deadly. Sri Lanka has the highest density of species when it comes to amphibians in the Asian region. We can study the species that come to our garden. There are lots of material and guidebooks available. When you create the garden naturally, the natural species will thrive in that area. As more and more destruction takes place, loss of habitat is a threat for more and more species. So, creating habitats for these creatures will create a healthy ecosystem.”

Green Thumbsasked Ganeshan what conditions should be there in the home garden for creating microhabitats for frog spawning. For example, should there be a certain climate? Should there be certain plants? Do pests and diseases play a part? Are they home-garden sensitive? As in, when spawning frogs, should there be a particular type of home garden?

Ganeshan says: “One of the most effective ways to entice frogs into your yard is simply to make use of the nature that’s already in it. By incorporating native plants, trees and grasses into your garden, you essentially make it more like a native habitat. By using other sorts of plants, you might introduce toxic or invasive flora and fauna that will disturb spawning and thriving of the species. Use water plants naturally and different old logs and rocks to create the habitats. Our hot and humid weather is perfect for spawning. Of course, make it more home-garden sensitive so that domestic cats and dogs will not harm these newcomers. I think the best way is to create the habitat naturally and the frogs will mate naturally, spawn naturally and survive naturally.”

“The long-term and short-term benefits of spawning frogs in the home garden is their diet. They eat many of the insects in your garden that might otherwise overpopulate and grow out of control. If frogs are flocking to your garden, it means that there’s at least some ecosystem harmony going on there, as they are bio-indicators. It lets you know that your garden is a sound habitat for local wildlife.”

“There is a lot of information available on the internet if you really need technical details. Some experts make artificial ponds and space from cement and allocate vegetation and so forth.

“I think it would be best if we could find natural stuff and clear some paths and add different shrubs and logs and have little natural water pools to create the habitat required. It will bring in that aesthetic value to your garden as well.”

Ganeshan says that spawning frogs can be a family activity. “It is a great way of learning and spending time outdoors. We have introduced our kids to technology. Kids these days don’t play outside or even know some of the games we have played as children. Technology is good and it is a must. But not too much. Also, we need to watch cartoons, but then again, I don’t know if there are good cartoons nowadays that teach us something. So, this is a family activity and a great way to see diversity and teach kids to love nature and protect it,” said Ganeshan.

She feels that if we can educate more people to engage in these type of activities in our gardens, to build and create more space to co-exist with nature, the results will be amazing. If we can create that awareness in all three languages, that would be even more fantastic. More habitats for little creatures, host space for birds, a beautiful butterfly garden and so forth.

Ganeshan says that unfortunately, she does not have a permanent home. “Ever since 2006, I have been shifting places,” she says. “But, one day I will have my own space. I love cooking and I want to grow my own veggies, microgreens, herbs, and fruits in my own garden. One day surely.”

“My mom is the gardener at home. Due to working full time, I have only the weekends to attend to so many things. I have learned so much from my mother, she is an incredible gardener. There is nothing that she cannot plant – everything flourishes. She even grew strawberries in Colombo,” says Ganeshan.

“Whenever time permits, my sister, brother and I do some gardening. Currently we have so many varieties of veggies and fruits. We have firefliesin the garden and during the power cuts, we watch from the balcony and it is an amazing sight to see them glow.”

Add new comment