January 10th, 2009
I grew up out in the country of northern Minnesota. My siblings and I didn't have video games or cable TV. We had public television, public radio, and the outdoors. And, like many other kids, we had a fascination with frogs. There were ponds and swamps around us filled with thousands of frogs and toads to play with. We collected them in five gallon pails, never really knowing why. But when we got tired of collecting them or Mom called us in, we usually let them go. At night we would lay in our beds with the windows open as the frogs sang us to sleep. I never found it annoying or bothersome. Since I grew up with the sound, I was accustomed to it, sorta like living next to the train tracks or an airport. You eventually get used to it and rarely are you bothered by it. For me, listening to the spring peepers, tree toads, and frogs sing to each other was as enjoyable as listening to Kermit sing "It's not easy being green."
But apparently too many frogs can pose problems for some people. The singing of frogs has driven some homeowners close to crazy. In Minnesota we don't have poisonous frogs that kill our pets when they get eaten, but a lot of other states do, so a surplus of these kinds of frogs can be a problem. There are a number of methods available to get rid of frogs. Some of them are terrible ideas that will lead to future issues by killing all your plants or other critters roaming around your yard. If you use mothballs, they may leach into local water, and if your pets eat them, they are toast. Below I have detailed some popular methods for getting rid of frogs that are not quite as destructive as mothballs.
Popular Methods for Frog Removal
Citric acid has been used in the battle against frog populations and has been proven to be effective. It is relatively easy to acquire at gardening shops and causes only mild phytotoxic damage to plants. Mix up a 16% solution, which is 1.3 pounds dry citric acid to one gallon of water. Put the solution in a sprayer and spray the frogs directly. Only direct exposure will kill the frogs. If you worry about killing your plants, rinse them with water about an hour after spraying the frogs. This will help reduce the damage.
Saltwater seems to have some affect on frogs much like it does on slugs. The salt burns their moist skin and scares them away. Much to the horror of my brother and sister, I was one of those little brats that liked to put salt on slugs and watch them wriggle. I remember our vacation to Washington state, in a little town called Lake Stevens. We were there visiting my great-aunt and uncle, and their backyard was rife with slugs. She gave me a salt shaker and sent me out back to play. What you do is mix up a solution of saltwater and spray it around the areas the frogs congregate. It will burn their little toes when they hop over the sprayed area. A little warning—all this salt is gonna be hard on any plants in the area. They will brown around the edges and eventually flop over dead from dehydration. So, that's the downside.
Caffeine has been approved for experimental usage in Hawaii as a pesticide. It is still in the experimenting phase as the affects on the ecosystem need to be observed. But early research showed a 2% solution of caffeine killed 100% of the frogs exposed to it. It causes irregularity in their heartbeats (heart attacks). It also killed a bunch of snails, slugs, and lizards in the testing area. A 2% solution is 125 times stronger than cola, so that would also mess a human up pretty badly. But you can use leftover coffee, which is about 0.1–0.05% concentration, to deter frogs. This solution will not kill them, but it may scare them off.
Bleach surprisingly has been used to ward of infestations of frogs, too. The solution is fairly weak, but it is apparently enough to keep the little critters out. Mix 1/3 cup bleach to 3 gallons of water or just under 2 tablespoons per gallon. I would not recommending spraying this onto plants as bleach will most likely kill them.
Controlling the variables of frog habitat is also crucial in getting rid of frogs. Frogs like dark, moist homes with lots of food available. Getting rid of structures where frogs can hide, like wood piles or piles of brush or leaves, helps. If you have a large lawn, consider mowing it short and regularly. This keeps the mosquitoes and other frog food populations at a lower level. If you can find the location where they are breeding, scoop out the frog eggs every time you see them. Also, hiring some kids to catch the frogs by hand is very effective. Kids will do anything for money.
Frogs for sale!
In the end, you need to assess the situation and decide for yourself what lengths you are willing to go to and how much you are willing to sacrifice to get rid of frogs. If you only have a couple of frogs, I would try the hands-on approach. Catch them by hand. It is easy and saves you killing a bunch of other stuff. If you have more than a few frogs and you just absolutely must get rid of them even though they are crucial to our environment and eat nasty disease-carrying bugs, use the methods described here and you will have success. If you have delicate plants, keep these in mind when choosing your weapon. Many of these chemicals I have talked about can and will hurt your plants. My favorite method for getting rid of frogs is still catching them. But maybe that is unrealistic in today's world. Kids today would rather play a video game called "Frog Catcher" than actually go outside to catch a frog or two.