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July 3, 2019

Meet Your Six New Species, I Mean, Neighbors at Barley Woods.

“The Big Six” Hopping around Barley Woods

Did you know that all toads are frogs but not all frogs are toads?  More about that later.   The big news is that Barley Woods is home to six different species of frogs and toads, hanging out in the woods and wet spots, including a small stormwater retention pool that some residents call “Redden Bird Pond.”   This week, Penny Firth, a Barley Woods homeowner, shared her discoveries and knowledge of this piece of nature in a fun and engaging presentation at the Clubhouse with her neighbors. 

First, a little bit about Penny.   She is a Virginia Master Naturalist and holds a Ph.D.  in Biology from Virginia Tech.   She loves talking to people about nature.   Although she is not a herpetologist, she has taken a FrogWatch USA training class which has led her to discover the sights and sounds of these important creatures living at Barley Woods.  

Just to put things in perspective for you:  worldwide there are 6,300 species of frogs, most of which are tropical.   In the US and Canada there are 81; in Virginia 27; Spotsylvania County 16; Barley Woods 6 (so far!) 

Here are “The Big Six” of Barley Woods found in Boxwell Glade, our wonderful wooded walking trail, and around Redden Bird Pond.   And just one more tidbit of info.  Frogs and toads are both tailless amphibians (“frogs”). Frogs have long jumping legs and smooth thin skin.   Toads have short hopping legs and warty thick skin.   They also have parotoid glands that emit yukky stuff (for protection from predators). And don’t worry, toads won’t give you warts! 

 American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus). Photo by P Firth.

Cope’s Grey Tree frog (Hyla chrysoscelis). Photo by P Firth.

Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer). Photo by P Firth.

Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans). Photo by P Firth.

Pickerel Frog (Lithobates palustris). Photo by P Firth.

Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans). Photo by P Firth.

Get to know these guys and gals and you will soon be hearing and identifying them on your walks through the neighborhood. They may even show up on your patio or front door, looking for insects or spiders to eat. Toads enjoy eating slugs too, in case your flower beds attract some. Even though our neighborhood is a bit topsy-turvy right now with all the construction going on, we hope that more frogs and toads will move back in when things settle down.   These important creatures keep the mosquito population down and are an important part of our ecosystem.  

Interested in more information? Check out the Virginia Herpetological Society website, which has not only photos, but also sound recordings of every species. 

Why are frogs so happy? Because they eat what bugs them!  It’s always a great day at Barley Woods.  

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