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Beware of the Phrog


I’ve blogged before and likely will again that one of the nice things about bike commuting regularly is the connection to nature.

And, no, I don’t necessarily mean in the hippy-dippy “Love Your Mother” sense.

But it’s nice to be somewhat in tune with the weather, the seasons … and the birds and the bees (and the mammals and invertebrates and … ).

http://www2.ljworld.com/users/ahartso... For instance, I noticed the lightning bugs came out to play earlier than normal this year, and it seemed like a bumper crop of the bugs with the blazing butts. They’re still going strong.

I’ve also seen an unusually large number of bats on my nighttime rides to and from work.

Another trend I’ve noticed: There sure seem to be a lot of frogs about lately.

(At this point, I’d like to ask forgiveness if I’m really talking about toads, or just really short, tail-less lizards. My herpetological knowledge is woeful.)

The other night I was riding home in the early, early morning. In the glow of my headlight ahead I saw something tiny crossing the road. I peered. It veered. I slowed. It sped up. At the last split-second, I recognized it as a tiny frog/toad with a death wish — just as my front wheel crossed its path. I’m afraid the little fella didn’t make it, though I have to admit, I didn’t turn around to see the aftermath.

I, the guy who gets soundly mocked by his own family members for escorting spiders out of the house, rather than simply flushing them, couldn’t bear to confront the road waffle he made of Kermit, so I muttered a quiet, “Sorry, dude,” and rode on.

A night or so later, I made it home, crunched over the horde of June bugs that congregate on the ground under the light over my garage, and was surprised to see three frogs clinging there, no doubt feasting on the insect bounty drawn to the light.

Another day or so went by, and I had to chase a rather large toad (I’m pretty sure this WAS a toad) out of the breezeway at the entrance to the office. Stubborn little dude just would not leave; I had an awful frog-in-my-throat feeling as I tried to brush it outside with the door and it instead tried to crawl under the weatherstripping.

Then again a night or two later, I encountered an even bigger toad in the Journal-World parking lot.

There was another frog by our front porch, which, to the delight of my son, jumped off the house onto my son’s sleeve. There’s no joy like that of a 9-year-old boy who has just been targeted by a frog. Trust me.

And just the other night, I was backing my bike out of the dark garage to head back to work when I thought I saw a flicker of movement arcing from the hood of my wife’s car to my bike.

I froze and turned on the overhead light.

There, clinging to a spoke on my front wheel, was another frog. If I hadn’t stopped, there’s a good chance the little hip-hopper would have been beheaded.

He hung out awhile before leaping over to my son’s bike, where he seemed content to spend the night.

I snapped a quick cell phone pick and chuckled, recalling a recent advertising campaign by SRAM, urging people to “Make the leap” to its new road-bike components. The SRAM mascot was a cute-as-a-button red frog.

This little guy, however, had made the leap to a Shimano drivetrain instead.

Since I’m posting the snapshot with the blog, I fully expect a response from noted local herpetologist Joseph Collins, who not only likely can make out the type of herp despite the awful nature of the picture, but also can give its common and Latin names. And, likely, its proper name, too, as in, “Oh, that’s Fred. He used to live with the Boones over on Sharon Drive, but I see he’s with a better class of people now.” Such is Collins’ encyclopedic knowledge.

Anyway, I’m sure there’s a reason for all these recent close encounters of the frog kind — insect excess? dry spell? — but I know I’ll keep my eyes open for them.

I don’t want the death of another fly-muncher on my conscience.


RoeDapple 7 years, 10 months ago

Well if you're gonna fry up a batch of frog legs for dinner you need to catch 'em a lot bigger than that! Of course frogs no bigger than that have kept highways from being built . . .

sassypants 7 years, 10 months ago

Yummy, fried frog legs. Haven't had any in years.

Earlier this spring and summer I mentioned to my hubby that there didn't seem to be as many squirrels in our yard as the past few years. They really seemed to be everywhere last year. We have a pecan and walnut tree in our yard. Last night I was outside at the picnic table talking on the phone and noticed maybe 4 or 5 squirrels playing about in the yard in the 5-10 minutes I was on the phone. That was the most I have seen at one time this year. Anyone else notice that there are less squirrels this year?

Ken Lassman 7 years, 10 months ago

Looks like Cope's Gray tree frog (Hyla chrysoscelis) to me. They love this time of year; heat, moisture (tho we could use some more rain!). They also love to hang out on my windows at night, picking off unsuspecting bugs that are attracted by my living room lights. Have you ever watched a frog eat a moth? Pretty interesting.

Here's what they sound like: http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/topics/frogCalls.html

whats_going_on 7 years, 10 months ago

haha, I love your blogs. This one is too cute.

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