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Graceful tree frog

Creating a frog utopia

Leap into 2017 and the wonderful world of frogs and water-loving insects, writes LEONIE SHANAHAN.

To create a frog pond, you have to think like a frog. What’s going to attract you to someone’s backyard? Essentials are food, water, shelter, shade, sun, safety and an absence of predators.

Frog skin is permeable, so your garden must also be ‘icide’ free – no herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, no spraying of insects either as the frogs may eat them. Even some ‘safe’ or organically allowed chemicals can be deadly for frogs so check carefully. 

Think about placement too. If you aren’t a fan of snakes, don’t have a pond at your front door. Also don’t place it in the middle of a lawn — frogs need habitat corridors for safe movement from the garden to the pond, as well as to the edge of the water. And finally, from experience, don’t have your pond near your or your neighbours’ bedrooms – frog song is a joyful sound until you want to sleep! 

Finally, garden ponds can be a haven for insect life, such as dragonflies and damselflies, and various diving beetles and water bugs. All these aquatic insects are predatory and help control pesky mosquitoes that may also try to take up residence in your pond. 

Like frogs, these insects need submerged vegetation as hiding places for their larvae, as well as edging water plants such as rushes and reeds for dragonflies to climb out of the water. Gently sloping edges allow insect larvae to move between shallow warm water to deeper cool water to regulate their body temperature. 

Oh, and here’s one last tip for you – install a garden chair nearby so you can observe all the comings and goings.