Local News

Rainy season 'toad'aly fine with frogs

SEBRING - Daily rains are raising lake levels and providing an abundance of water to make your garden and lawn grow, but there are few drawbacks from the wet weather.
It's a matter of too much green in the form of native and invasive frogs and too little green in the form of brown spots on lawns.
Highlands County Agricultural Extension horticulturist David Austin said anytime when it is warm and wet people come in with sod problems. The rain has been good, but then it is causing other problems.
The wet grass from the late afternoon and evening rains is susceptible to fungus with the warm nights, he said. There are certain funguses that thrive in hot and warm weather such as "large patch" and "grey leaf spot."
It's a bigger problems with St. Augustine grass and less of a problem with Bahia grass, Austin noted.
"It always seems to be a problem when things are wet at night, that's why we recommend running your sprinklers in the morning," he said.
Preventative fungicides can help, he said. Austin recommends monitoring your yard and determining what is causing any spots.
About a month ago when he was with a summer camp group, Austin noticed a large number of frogs/toads when he was in The Preserves behind Sun 'N Lake of Sebring.
He explained that the rain helps create extra little ponds that don't have fish in them that eat some of the tadpoles.
A grayish-brown invasive toad is becoming more prevalent in Highlands County.
Austin said the poisonous cane toad/bufo toad has gotten a good foothold in the area, but not necessarily from the extra rain this summer.
"I am starting to hear a lot about them and people are worried about them," he said. If a dog or cat grabs it, the toad can kill it pretty fast.
According to the University of Florida Department of Wildlife, when cane toad is threatened or handled, it secretes a highly toxic milky substance from large glands at the back of its head, behind the ears. This secretion can burn your eyes, may irritate your skin and can kill cats and dogs if they ingest the secretion.
Austin said the only thing one can do about them is "catch them and dispatch them."
Wear gloves when handling them, he advised.
"Anytime you see a toad that is over 3 inches long, it's most likely a cane toad as opposed to our native toad," Austin said. Also, the cane toad has triangular-shaped glands behind their eyes and above their shoulders. A regular toad has oval glands.
Another frog/toad is making a pest of itself in the area.
The invasive Cuban tree frog is pushing out the native frogs, Austin said.
"Other than that, I don't know of any problems that they cause other than maybe scaring people," he said. The tan to white or light green Cuban tree frogs are not poisonous and they eat insects just like the native tree frog does, he said. The native tree frogs are smaller and green.
Treefrogs can be easily captured by hand - however, you should use a plastic bag to cover your hand when catching Cuban Treefrogs because they secrete a noxious slime that can temporarily irritate your eyes and nose, according to the UF Department of Wildlife.
Archbold Biological Station Land Manager Kevin Main said the rain has not been an issue with the plants and wildlife at the station.
"It may be wet for some of the people around here, especially those who are not familiar with Florida for more than a decade or more," he said.
Archbold Biological Station has recorded 51 inches of rain thus far this year, which is about normal for an entire year, he said. "We will probably get another 10 inches before the end of the year so we will definitely be over average."