Five Mile Homeowners Fed Up With Frogs - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

CONNECT WITH KLECK: Five Mile Homeowners Fed Up With Frogs

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Little frogs like these croak the loudest at night in Spokane's 5 Mile neighborhood. (Photo: KHQ) Little frogs like these croak the loudest at night in Spokane's 5 Mile neighborhood. (Photo: KHQ)
SPOKANE, Wash. -

KHQ.COM - By the looks of it, there's nothing out of the ordinary about the neighborhoods in Five Mile.

But look a little closer and you'll find some unusual neighbors:

Pacific tree frogs (otherwise known as Pseudacris regilla.)

Full grown tree frogs are still tiny - often smaller than two inches in length - and are green or brown in color, according to Madonna Luers, Spokesperson for the Eastern Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Although they're mostly nocturnal, especially at low elevations, they are unmistakable when spotted during the day since they are the only frog with circular pads at the tips of their fingers and toes, which adhere well to smooth surfaces.

Plus, Luers added, the tree frog name is a bit of a misnomer since the creatures tend to stay on the ground and in shrubs more than trees.

KHQ found the many retaining ponds around the Five Mile area are the perfect places for the frogs to reproduce. Every spring, they appear there like clockwork.

"At first it was interesting and it was unique and fun," Kathleen French said, who lives on Carolina Way in Five Mile. "It is starting to get where we're concerned. We just see them everywhere."

French said she and her family have always been a fan of amphibians. Her kids take care of several frogs and toads. But in the last few years, she said her home's been covered in the critters.

"We didn't (used to) have that overabundance," French continued. "I feel like it's getting to the point where they're becoming a nuisance."

As day turns to night in Five Mile, the nocturnal creatures make their grandest display of all: croaking. Pacific tree frogs are also known as Pacific chorus frogs since they call in unison in large groups at night.

"There was a chorus of frogs that were just loud," French said. "They were innumerable, like, you can't count the number of frogs that would be croaking over there."

And when they're not mating, they're eating.

At night, tree frogs jump in droves for nearby homes and garages. They're drawn by the lights where they then sit and wait for insects. It makes it difficult for homeowners to get in or out of their homes and garages without the frogs jumping inside, or accidentally stepping on them.

"We came out a couple evenings ago and had a flashlight and we were just walking around and had frogs on the walls of the house," French said.

According to Luers, this species can be cyclical in population numbers. Some years see more frogs than other years.

However, Luers argued that having them around is a great indicator of a healthy environment. She said they're part of a healthy wildlife food chain, consuming lots of insects and sometimes consumed by other animals. Like most amphibians and reptiles, Luers said, they are especially sensitive to pollution so they can be indicators of overall environmental degradation.

Many homeowners are still left feeling overwhelmed by the overabundance of frogs. So what should they do to fix the problem?

French doesn't have the froggiest.

"I don't know," she said. "I guess there will be a lot less bugs in Five Mile!"

Tree frogs are a protected native species so they can't legally be killed. However, Luers suggested homeowners eliminate sources of water where frogs breed in the spring including everything from backyard ponds to kiddie wading pools. She also suggested that people move the frogs to an out-of-the-way garden spot or gently "escort" them elsewhere with a soft broom.

At this time of year, Luers said the tree frogs are looking for places to hibernate through the winter, usually deep, soft, soils that they burrow into for long-term cover. They'll be active until the weather gets cold and drops below 40 degrees.

RESOURCES:

"Living With Frogs" information at http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/frogs.html.

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