How Do Frogs Find Backyard Ponds or Water in Gardens?

A few years ago, I dug a pond in our backyard as a summer project. After lining and filling it with water, I added weeds and fish, then sat back to enjoy the wildlife. 

What I wasn’t expecting though was how within weeks there were frogs – and not through my own making! I couldn’t understand how the frogs found our backyard pond as I wasn’t aware of any water source anywhere near our home. 

It turns out I wasn’t alone in wondering how frogs find a new pond and water in a garden or backyard. My neighbor had the same thing happen, but he’s a landscape gardener so was able to explain to me how frogs are attracted to backyard ponds, from quite considerable distances too – here’s what he told me.

How do frogs find backyard ponds? Frogs know how to find backyard ponds and water in your garden due to their sense of smell and hearing. The humidity can attract them to the pond, and frogs will also follow prey back to a water source. 

That’s the concise answer on how frogs know how to find water in your backyard but check out the detail behind it I’ve listed below. It’s fascinating how it all works. 

How do frogs find water in backyards and gardens?

There are different theories that explain how frogs find garden ponds and bodies of water in your backyard. I’ve touched on it a little already, but here are those answers in a much more detail to help you understand why frogs are attracted to ponds or water in gardens.

1. Frogs find ponds through their sense of smell 

Frogs and toads have a keen sense of smell which lets them smell pond water from large distances. For example, if wind was blowing over your garden pond, there’s every chance that the moisture will travel, alerting the frog to the good times ahead.

how do frogs find water
Frogs will naturally find water if they can smell it, despite being some distance away from the pond.

Frogs can also smell chemicals that are released around ponds. One example would be the type of worms that some frogs like eating. Millipedes and earthworms living around a pond are said to release chemicals as they interact with their environment. This becomes a red alert to a hungry frog or toad.

From what I have been told, those chemicals help frogs identify the best places to live, especially if there are plenty of food sources – this is very similar to how newts find ponds.

2. Frogs find ponds by following prey using their hearing

Frogs also find backyard ponds by following their prey. 

It makes sense, as some insects that frogs like will naturally gravitate towards the water in your backyard pond. You will have seen the bugs and flies over the water in your garden, and that’s just what frogs and toads love to eat.

how far do frogs travel
Frogs will travel far to find ponds, using their hearing to track prey near open water.

They will follow their food by using their exceptional hearing. When night falls and it’s quiet in your neighborhood, frog ears become ultra-sensitive to sound. This lets them follow the buzz all the way to the water in your backyard.

According to Science Daily, frogs have better hearing than humans, which might explain how they use that sense to find your backyard pond: 

Frogs can hear sounds up to 38 kilohertz, the highest frequency any amphibian species has been known to hear, the scientists report. Humans can hear up to about 20 kHz and typically talk at 2 or 3 kHz.

It’s possible they might also listen out for earthbound creatures too that are near your pond. Some frogs like to eat critters like earthworms and millipedes who tend to live in moist soil, close to ponds and water. 

The frogs that eat them will naturally follow listen out, smell, and then follow their food around until they find a pond.

3. Frogs find water due to the humidity of ponds

Amphibians, frogs included, are sensitive to humidity. It means frogs are attracted to yards and gardens where a water source is present.

what attracts frogs to your yard
Frogs will be attracted to ponds and water in your garden due to the humidity.

If you have a pond in your backyard, frogs will naturally be attracted to the water. It’s due to any air near the water becoming humid through the natural evaporation and molecular exchange processes. 

4. Some frogs will return to water in which they were spawned in

Frogs are known to instinctively return to the pond or water in which they were spawned. So, even if you don’t have frogs in pond today, you might have some returning frogs and toads in the future. But more about that a little further down the page. 

can frogs find their way home
Frogs will often travel to return home to the water source they were spawned in.

Of course, this doesn’t account for how frogs find new ponds, but hopefully I’ve already explained that in the previous points.

So… those are the top 4 reasons why frogs will always find your pond, whether it’s a new one or and old one. 

But there’s more to know.

More on frogs and the attraction to ponds

I think you will find the following aspects very interesting if you have a pond and want to understand how frogs operate. 

How far will frogs travel to find a pond?

Frogs are known to travel large distances to find ponds. How far do frogs travel to find water exactly though is hard to say. There are reports of frogs travelling as far as 100 kilometers (62 miles) to find water in just a single year.

What we do know though, is that the further north a frog lives from the equator, the more likely it is to migrate and travel to find a pond. As time passes and glaciers form or recede, ponds will appear in new places. 

How long before frogs find my pond?

When I dug our backyard garden pond it took just 3 weeks for frogs to find it. My assumption here is that by the time those few weeks had elapsed, the pond had started to attract insects and the right type of “smell” and noise that will attract frogs to it.

Can frogs find their way home?

Based on what we now know, frogs can find their way home to your backyard pond. This isn’t uncommon, for example if a bird picks up a frog and drops it miles from your garden’s water source, the amphibian will try to find his way back to the pond.

can frogs find their way back to a pond
Frogs can find their way back to a pond even if picked up and dropped far away by a bird.

This is most likely an instinct that has developed over time to help frogs and toads survive. After all, if they stayed in one place and became easy prey for predators, then there would be no frogs left at all!

Do frogs return to the same place? 

Some frogs do attempt to go back to where they were born (or spawned). Most tend to return back to the pond they started off in as tadpoles, and there are even reports of frogs returning to the same place during breeding seasons.

This amazing feat of nature has even been seen after a pond has been filled in with earth, or even after concrete has been laid over the top!

Handy Hint: Many people will often freak when finding a toad in their garden despite no pond. Don’t panic, leave them and they will find their own way home.

Will a backyard pond attract frogs?

Hopefully you should know by now that yes, if you have a backyard pond, it can attract frogs. Having said that, just because you have a pond in your garden, it doesn’t automatically mean frogs will appear. 

For most species of frogs to survive, they must be able to breed in freshwater before winter sets in. A backyard pond is ideal for these frogs because it provides them with the means to mate and lay eggs nearby.

Why do frogs need ponds?

Frogs need to live near ponds for several reasons. One is that they lay their eggs there, and tadpoles hatch from those eggs. Another reason is that amphibians like frogs and toads, live in or around water. 

By keeping a pond in your garden, frogs can get the water they need naturally. Another reason why frogs need ponds is that water helps them regulate their body temperature.

how do frogs find garden ponds
Tadpoles will grow into baby frogs before thriving as healthy adults in the right environment.

Frogs can also find plenty of insects around a pond, so it’s easy for them to eat there. The insects are attracted to the moisture in the soil near ponds, so they won’t have too far to travel before finding dinner!

How do you attract frogs to your backyard pond?

If you have a backyard pond, several things can help attract frogs. One is to make sure the water isn’t too acidic or basic. If it’s one or the other, then it could kill amphibians. With the right chemical balance, you don’t have to add anything to your pond water.

Another way you can attract frogs is by keeping at least three-quarters of the pond covered with vegetation. This helps shade the water and keeps it from getting too hot during sunny days. The frogs will appreciate a little protection from the sun, and they will also find many insects to eat there!

Also, try adding a little bit of chlorine to the water. It’s not harmful to frog life, and it will keep algae from forming on the banks.

And finally, bury some rocks around the edges of your pond. This gives frogs lots of places to get out of the water if they need to escape predators!

Are there other things that will attract frogs to your backyard pond?

Plenty!

Some of the best pond companions are water lilies, cattails, and iris. These plants give frogs good places to hide so they can get close to prey without being seen. 

These can also add color and vibrancy to your pond.

How should I clean my pond to make it the best habitat for frogs?

Frogs will be drawn to a backyard pond that is upkept and clean. It needs to be kept safe from predators like cats and dogs, and it should never be overgrown with weed or vines.

If you can, remove rocks and other debris as soon as you notice them, so the pond stays clean and clear. You can also clean by using a mesh filter.

How many species of frogs can survive in a backyard pond?

That depends on the size of your pond! If it’s large enough, then you might be able to see different types of frogs come and go. A smaller pond can only support a couple of different types.

How long can frogs stay in a backyard pond?

Many factors affect how long frogs will live in a backyard pond. If the water is clean, it might be years before you notice any issues with them. If there are predators around or too many algae in the water, they may move after a few weeks.

But what should you do if you don’t want frogs to find your backyard pond?

What keeps frogs away from ponds?

Frogs can be kept away from backyard ponds by using several methods.

One factor is pollution. Chemicals and other pollutants in the water can cause problems for frogs. They may change the chemical balance so that it’s not safe for eggs or tadpoles, or they may kill off some of the prey needed to support frog life.

Of course, I don’t recommend you pollute your pond, but this would be a reason why frogs aren’t attracted to the water source.

Another factor that keeps frogs away from ponds is predators. Animals such as cats and dogs can kill adult frogs, and birds and fish may eat the tadpoles. 

If there aren’t many predators around, or if they are well fed enough to ignore most frog life, then the backyard pond area will be attractive to frogs.

Some frogs also hibernate during the winter, so staying away from ponds is a way to avoid predators. They need water to swim through snow or find open bodies of it to keep them moist. 

It may seem strange that they don’t mind being around the ice, but if you’ve ever looked closely at an ice cube, you’ll see that it’s full of little pockets and channels. These pockets trap moisture from the frog’s surroundings so they can survive.

If you have a backyard pond and you’ve noticed no frogs around, it might be time to call a frog expert. The reason is that there may be many chemicals or contaminants in the water for the frogs to survive safely. If you want to avoid this, then try taking some of the following steps:

Remove any chemicals from your yard. This includes pesticides and fertilizers. They may seem like they aren’t harming anything, but if there’s enough in the water to be dangerous for frogs, they can also accumulate in frog eggs and tadpoles and kill them.

If you have a pond with fish in it, talk to an expert about how many are too many. Sometimes people add fish, thinking they will “control” the insects and algae, but they can do more harm than good. Frogs need to eat too, so if the fish get hungry enough, they might try eating some of the frogs!

Conclusion

Frogs are found all over the world providing they can get access to water. If there are frogs in your neighborhood and you have a pond in your backyard, they will be attracted to it… and there’s not a lot you can do about it!

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