Pickerel FrogI found this frog in my yard hopping in the grass. It's a Pickerel frog, sometimes called a Grass frog. They live in ponds and lakes, but spend a lot of time out of the water foraging for food. They are only about 2 1/2 inches long and reportedly difficult to catch. When approached, they hop quickly away in a zig-zag pattern. These are the frogs that often are hopping wildly away in front of your lawn mower. I had no trouble catching this one, though. I have a ninety-nine cent secret weapon - a kid's butterfly net from Reny's. Maine residents will know of Reny's as the odd lots store of all time. I have kept the price tag on the net, so I look like the Minnie Pearl of whatever-catchers. Remember her? "How-w-w-DEE-E-E-E! I'm jes' so proud to be here!" was her signature line.
She was the comedienne and American country singer who wore hats with the price tag hanging on the front in her field of view. As a regular on the variety show "Hee-Haw!", she was always flirting and catchin' fellers. When I was younger, Minnie was my role model for catching men.
I can be quite a flirt myself. But, these days, I'm more interested in catching insects and frogs than men. I bought the net a couple of years ago and keep it in my car, at the ready for things like this darting frog. Admittedly, on more than one occasion, I've thought about netting my crazy brothers-in-law. When I met my husband, he was easy to catch and required no special equipment. Of course, one must have some understanding of the behaviors of critters in order to catch them, not just the net. I'm sure Minnie Pearl knew this. I knew that the frog would zip away on a zig zag, so I held the net in front of it. Had the frog outwitted me and not hopped into the net as predicted, I would not tell you that I had seen it at all! Well, that's probably not true. To have only seen the frog, but not to have caught it, would be like telling my girlfriends that a man had proposed without having the ring to show for it. Minnie would never have made that mistake.
The skin secretions of a stressed pickerel frog are known to be toxic to other frogs. They can't be in terrariums or other containers with other frogs because they'll all......CROAK! The secretions can also be moderately irritating if they come in contact with the eyes, mucous membranes, or broken skin of humans. It is advisable to wash up after handling pickerel frogs. After I handled this little feller, I had a swollen lip, but that could have been from when he punched me back after the netting.
Pickerel frogs hibernate from October through April, but are common here during the spring and summer. Their populations are declining due to deforestation and pollution. One of the biggest sources of the pollution that's killing them is lawn mowers. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a traditional gas powered lawn mower produces as much air pollution as 43 new cars each being driven 12,000 miles. Each weekend, roughly 54 million Americans mow their lawns. They use 800 million gallons of gas per year and produce tons of air pollutants. Garden equipment engines, which have had unregulated emissions until very recently, emit high levels of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, producing up to 5% of the nation's air pollution and a much more in metropolitan areas. The little frogs that aren't chopped up by your lawn mower are left gasping for breath either way. They are very sensitive to their environment and are regarded by biologists as an indicator species. Think of this little feller as a Canary in the coal mine - when you stop seeing or hearing them, stop breathing the air.