The Appalachian mountains tend to have rivers, not lakes. One of the few natural bodies of water in West Virginia is Trout Pond, a few miles from us. It is a plugged sink hole all of a couple of acres in size. Most of the other lakes in the state are dammed rivers for flood control or water reservoirs. However, frogs, toads, and other amphibians need places to lay their eggs. For this, spring rains fill up low areas that become vernal ponds.
Vernal ponds may last a few weeks or a month after the rains end. If we have summer thunderstorms, these might rise and fall regularly in the humid heat. The frogs and toad must act quickly while the water is available. By the time the vernal pond is down to wet mud, the the tadpoles must be developed enough to grown on land.
We noticed a toad slip out between rocks in one of our rock walls in Spring. Each evening for several weeks, he would stand on the edge or a vernal pond singing and croaking. Then a striped frog took position on a mostly submerged rock. The frogs whistle more than sing, creating an erie sci-fi sound concentrated around moist areas.
We are not certain who was more successful, but one morning, we found neither the toad nor frog, but instead found long strings of fertilized eggs floating around the rocks. Within days, tadpoles were hatching and swimming around. Soon the egg strands were gone, and the water teamed with pea sized tadpoles.
Now, we shall watch to see whether they become toads or frogs. Nonetheless, if a few survive, our gardens will have a new regiment of bug eaters. Oh, our vernal pond? It happens to be the dogs’ kiddie pool for cooling off during the summer. They do not like toads, but do not appear bothered by tadpoles.