How frogs jump: the science
A population explosion of tens of thousands of frogs and toads has emerged on North Carolina’s coastal plain, leading to social media reports of frogs found hopping on kitchen counters, crawling in beds and even falling on people as they step outside.
“They’re all over my windows...I had one jump on my face laying in bed,” one unhappy Manteo resident told the Outer Banks Voice last week. “And I had another in the kitchen on the cutting board. (They’re) everywhere!”
Blaming Hurricane Florence’s record-setting floods for this Biblical-style plague is justified but not entirely accurate, experts told the Charlotte Observer.
What’s happened, says state biologist Jeff Hall, is a convergence of two types of frog and toad population explosions along the coast.
The first wave is the tadpoles born during the abnormally heavy rains of June and July, and the second is a boom of “explosively breeding” toads -- like the eastern spadefoot toad -- that found a perfect habitat in tiny puddles created by Hurricane Florence.
In their case, it can take only two weeks to go from swimming in a puddle to hopping around someone’s yard, said Hall, an amphibian conservationist with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission.
“Making things even worse is the flooding,” Hall told the Charlotte Observer. “All these frogs are in search of dry ground, which is why they’re showing up in places they don’t normally go...I’ve heard of people stepping outside and frogs falling on their shoulder, freaking them out. Frogs love tiny cracks, so they get in door seals.”
Dee Wesner wrote on Facebook that she actually found one on a “sliding door of a 4th floor deck,” proving how high they can get.
“There are six to eight that hang on my kitchen window every night,” posted Joe Gay on Facebook. “Patient little guys. Just waiting for the perfect bug and then Zap...... Bug gone, frog smiling.”
Hall predicts coastal residents will continue finding frogs and toads -- dead and alive -- in odd places until all the flood waters recede in the 10 most impacted counties.
Until then, he says one tip is to turn off porch lights.
“Porch lights attract bugs and moths, and it’s like a steak house buffet to a frog,” Hall said. “They do not pose a threat. It’s best to try and deal with them as best we can until the situation changes. There are people with hundreds of little toads running around in their yards and they don’t like it, but toads do eat insects.”