There’s nothing that says you’ve had a childhood in the country like catching tadpoles. When I was a kid it was still common for teachers in Grade School ( Elementary School in some parts of the world) to lead children on a field trip to a pond or a large mud puddle to catch tadpoles and teach us about life sciences. Frogs and Toads start life as herbivores. They eat the algae that grows in the pond or in the case of tonight’s feature image the mud puddle. Contrary to popular belief not all species of tadpoles eat mosquitoes. Only the spadefoot toad and certain types of tree frogs eat mosquitoes. I suppose that means that if you bought bullfrogs or leopard frogs for your landscape pond and wondering why you still have mosquitos it’s because they are the wrong species.
In order for the tadpoles to survive the water hole has to be stable. It takes about 12 weeks for them to be able to survive on dry land. The main reason why transplantation of tadpoles is discouraged today is because of the possibility of transplanting waterborne weeds and diseases with them. However, I have to question how the weeds and diseases survive in a puddle that might only last a few days.
As I approached the mud puddle to get a better look at the tadpoles every pebble on the ground sprung to life! No bigger than a kernel of corn the pollywogs began running from the giant. I knew that if I wanted a closeup without squishing them all I’d need to get creative. So I tossed a quarter onto the ground and attached my long lens to the camera. I realized that the pollywogs were queuing on my shadow so I moved around a bit and used my shadow to drive this little guy close to the quarter without squishing his brothers and sisters.
Aside from eating pests frogs and toads are important to medical science. In full disclosure I only skimmed the article but Tadpoles are being studied to help organ transplant patients.
Decades ago a Russian scientist discovered that certain frogs have a substance called Magainin after the Hebrew word for shield. The substance was reported to be like kryptonite against bacteria, fungi and viruses. They even developed a topical ointment that helped heal diabetic ulcers however the FDA rejected the application because there was already a product on the market that worked. However, academics still keep the research alive so maybe one day we’ll have a choice in which medications we allow into our own bodies.
As I write this article I have a Gray Tree Frog singing outside my office window and I wonder if it’s the same one from last year. I’m not sure what kind of frog or toad these tadpoles will turn into. Just judging by the size I’m guessing that they are tree frogs. The puddle was on the fringe of woodlands and wetlands so they might be leopard frogs. Either way the encounter took me back in time 40 years when my brother and I would dip mason jars into a local pond or mud puddle and discovering that it was teaming with life.
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4 thoughts on “Encountering Tadpoles”
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It was a big part of my childhood to go catch tadpoles ❤
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In rural West Virginia in the early 70s it’s how young kids were introduce to biology and ecology. Sometimes the tadpoles were brought into classroom and we watched them change into frogs.