“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: It Goes On.”
Robert Frost

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Silent Night

Every spring I look forward to opening the windows at night so that I can hear the night sounds. The frogs always put on a serenade that helped me drift off to sleep.  I've been waiting and waiting and I finally realized the other night that it's summer and they aren't coming. The entire yard and the lake that is just outside my back door is completely silent.  Deathly silent.

No crickets. No Tree frogs or Spring peepers. 
I have never experienced anything like this 
since I've lived here......  
Just utter silence. 

Last night I woke up and after our rain thought surely I would hear them, but no, nothing.  I did hear the wail of a train whistle far away, but that was all.  We have never had a lot of car traffic in our area and I think you literally could have heard a pin drop, it was so quiet. I actually went to the window thinking perhaps my husband had closed it for some reason, but it was open, there were just no sounds.

Most of you've seen my backyard before. Lots of big trees and shrubs, native plants and garden flowers everywhere.  We have a lovely little lake which fills with peepers every spring and the trees and bushes are full of green tree frogs. This year there's no sign of my tiny musical friends.  I searched my yard and they used to hang out on the window sill or I would find them sitting on a leaf in the garden.  My beloved little frogs are gone. As I searched the yard I counted 5 small bumblebees, 1 honeybee, 2 wasps and 2 dragonflies. This year my husband saw one small toad the other day.  So far this year I've seen one Monarch butterfly...  That's all..... I look at my red bee balm flowers and wonder, "Where are the Bees?", there used to be hundreds of these winged pollinators ....

At dusk, the area is usually alive with sounds. The crickets used to chirp and the Green tree frogs and Spring peepers (tiny little bark colored frogs that make a lovely chirpy sound) are gone. Everything is SILENT.

I'm heartbroken!! What is going on?! I have lived here for almost 20 years and nothing like this has ever happened before. Was it the low snowfall amount last year that left them unprotected from the winter frosts as they hibernated? Is it some kind of pesticide or toxic chemical that has been sprayed around the neighborhood? Have the raccoons and other predators eaten all my musical friends?

This spring and summer has been strange. 
I feel forlorn, bereft and cheated. 
It hasn't felt like spring or summer without them.

Spring peeper, Pseudacris crucifer, from Anoka County, MN

The video and photo above are of the Spring Peeper, I very dull little fellow, until he begins to sing....

The other favorite frog that I used to see all the time in the garden is what I called a Green Tree Frog, actually it is a Gray Tree Frog. See the photo below and listen to him sing...

Cope's gray treefrog, Hyla chrysoscelis 
The Cope's Gray tree frog can change from green to a mottled brown at will. They also sing. 

We've noticed the Bee and Butterfly populations have plummeted and since toxic chemicals and global warming have been linked to those I thought I would do a bit more reading about my froggy friends.

Let me backtrack for a moment though, I want to tell you that it is very likely that even though I or my close neighbors don't use toxic chemicals, they are still getting into our lake. This development was built during the early 1960's.  We had the good fortune to visit with the original homeowner who lived here for almost 40 years.  He told us that for the first 10 years this little lake was pristine. You could swim and even eat any fish that you caught out of the lake back then.

That all came to and end during the mid 1970's.  After development in this area started to get crowded and all the streets, driveways and parking lots were put in, they started having flooding.  The brilliant idea was to use the little lakes around the area as collection or containment ponds for the water run off from all of those polluted areas.  All of the trash that you see in the street or parking lots ended up washed into our lakes.... no filter, no settlement pond, just down into the gutter and right into our lakes. So all the chemicals put onto the yards is washed in along with all the other debris.   It is not hard to imagine that the lake has all sorts of toxic chemicals in it that are especially harmful to small delicate creatures like frogs and toads. So, I have to wonder......

Is this the reason?

Impact Of Neonicotinoids On The Environment And Wildlife And Human Health
(source- read full article here)

The AIDS in wildlife which is now upon us, in which massive epidemics of unusual infective pathogens have caused deaths and declines in a variety of wildlife: amphibians, bats, birds, invertebrates (including all pollinators) is caused, not by a virus, but by a chemical. To be precise, a variety of chemicals can cause it; but the main culprits are the NEONICOTINOID INSECTICIDES. Unlike human AIDS, wildlife AIDS it is untreatable. And the chemicals causing it are persistent in the environment.

Amphibians, particularly tadpoles, are considered to be an environmental indicator because of their unique sensitivity to pollutants. The WWF Living Planet Report 2010 has shown that biodiversity is declining faster in freshwater, than in any other biome, including coral reefs and tropical forests. In 2011, the study in Nature said that amphibian population declines far exceed those of other vertebrate groups. In 2011 Mendelson, who graduated in 1989, wrote: “I am a taxonomist and I have seen my career vacillate between the thrill of discovering new species and the chill of tracking extinction events – including species that I described”.

The image below is from yet another article....

For more information about safe gardening practices read this.....
Beautiful Death...

I will continue waiting for my little friends, perhaps I will hear some when the weather begins to cool again.  I hope this is just a temporary thing and not the end of a beautiful occurrence, something that I have to admit, 
I had become accustomed too.  

As they say, you often don't truly appreciate things until they are gone.

~ Diane ~


  1. Diane, this is such a great post. I love that frog! Gorgeous!

    1. Thanks Linda... I love all of them too! I just read that Neonicotinoid pesticide use is to be reduced by 80% in Ontario, but experts believe that's still not enough... http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/neonicotinoid-pesticide-use-to-be-reduced-by-80-in-ontario-1.2849318

  2. This post made me feel very sad. I can imagine how upsetting the whole situation is to you. I also enjoy the sounds of those little friends that serenade us. I hope there is a good reason that it's quieter this year and not once again humans poisoning the world for them.

    1. Thank you for your kind words Martha. As a gardener and nature lover yourself, you understand my distress. The US has still not banned this insecticide, the UK banned it a few years ago. I'm still hoping that this is a natural occurrence and not as you say, due to us humans acting irresponsible with chemicals, just so they can put more money in their pockets.

  3. I don't know what happened to my original comment, since after I posted it I saw it and now it's gone. Weird.

    Around here the frogs (and every insect imaginable) are hanging out to the point of annoyance. The ecosystem is basically taking over and all but carrying our house away, so I don't know why they're not where you live. They'll probably show up eventually.

    Our hummers were a little later than usual in arriving this year... by about 2 or 3 weeks... so maybe that's all it is?

    1. Kristin - I appreciate your comment. I wish I had your problem, I would rather have an abundance of these creatures, than none. Perhaps you don't live in an area where this insecticide is widely used, such as I do in this suburban environment. I'm also surrounded by lakes, rivers, and streams and the poisonous insecticide can easily travel from one place to the next. Once it is in the food chain it continues to travel.

      However, if you read the second article, you will find that it is now commonly found in garden plants you can purchase at most of the big box stores, and they are usually unmarked, and you may have the poisoned plant in you garden right now. Once the insecticide is in the soil it persists for years and also gets into the ground water as is what I believe has happened here. Just enjoy your creatures now, because if this keeps up there won't be any left in a few years.

    2. Well, there can be too much of a good thing. Lol! (Not very much unlike people's annoyance with snow in the winter or heat in the summer. It can get to become overkill real fast if it's overwhelming). I'd gladly send some your way if I could because there certainly is an overabundance where I live. (Which isn't surprising because it is the country and they don't spray here. Even the city of Austin - where my siblings live - doesn't spray).

      Still, it sounds like something is definitely going on there in Minnesota. Hopefully it's temporary. (Fingers crossed). I guess only time will tell.

  4. Oh no, how sad. I hope they return!

  5. I have been hearing a lot lately about neighborhoods being sprayed for mosquitoes and the impact the spray has on on the bees and butterflies. It is true you can tell the health of your environment by the frog population. I have very few frogs and have always been concerned. I hope you your night sounds return soon.

    Thank you for your kind comment and for visiting me. I am humbled. Bonnie

  6. Very strange! I hope that it's only a temporary problem. I wish our society would not rely so heavily on pesticides and herbicides. They fix one thing and then break another.

  7. Diane, this is so interesting, and to think that your lakes at one time were filled with fresh water and fish. That must be so strange not to hear the frogs after hearing them for so many years. I hope you figure out what's going on, and please keep us updated. I'd really like to know.

    Have a very nice week, Diane.

    love, ~Sheri

  8. Oh Diane, I was so very sad to read your post. It’s the same in England (not with frogs as far as I know) but the bees are disappearing fast as are the little garden birds. We get dozens of crows and seagulls in the garden, but song birds are few and far between. I was born in 1948 and remember the hedgerows being full of bird song – now I stop to listen if I hear one or two singing. Everything is being killed by insecticides and in the UK the removal of hedgerows and intensive farming. There are measures in place to try to reverse the trend – like leaving an area of wild meadow around each cultivated field, but I fear it might all be too late. I only heard one Cuckoo this spring and Terry missed even that one. So sad.
    I hope you wake up tonight and hear the frogs and toads singing their hearts out. Hugs Barbara xx

    1. I can understand your sadness as well Barbara. I guess we are lucky that we have all of South America to help furnish us with some of our song birds. We also share our Monarchs with Mexico, where they spend the winter. I'm not familiar with where your song birds are coming from, are they native or do they migrate? There are so many things I learn that I know nothing about each day! So far we still have many songbirds, but our Bees, Butterflies and amphibians are disappearing fast. I hope you and Terry have more time after you retire, to listen for the birds song. No frogs yet, I did hear some cicadas ...

    2. Hi Diane, there are a few birds that stay in the UK, but most migrate. Our summer visitors (Swallows, House Martins, Swifts, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Whitethroat) are birds that have migrated in the spring from around the Mediterranean and Africa, though some of our traditional migrants, like the Blackcap and Chiffchaff, are now over-wintering in Britain. Our winter visitors like Redwing, Fieldfare, Blackbird and Robin migrate from their breeding grounds in Scandinavia and northern Europe.
      Thank you for the link to the BBC Earth article about wild meadows I realised they had declined but had no idea it was by so much.

    3. Thank you for answering my question about your birds. I find all this fascinating! I remember when there were wild meadows.... we didn't use weed killer, we used people power! I and my brothers used to walk the pastures and chop out my father's arch enemy, the Scotch Thistle, which is actually ironic, considering my ancestry is Scottish! Ha!

  9. It's pretty scary how much we have screwed up the planet.

  10. Diane- so sorry to read this post. Our climate everywhere is changing and so perhaps it has caused your sweet peepers to leave. I certainly hope not and if so that they return. We still have them here. Love to listen to them. Thank you for sharing your concerns for our planet. It is so important to be aware of these changes. Hugs!

  11. Thank you everyone for visiting my little part of the world.
    I will let you know if I hear my singing frogs again...

  12. that is terribly sad to hear, or not to as it were. We so often forget that these effects of global warming and pollution aren't just fables of the possible future, but something that is happening slowly in front of our eyes. You write beautifully, and I am so glad to have found your blog.

  13. I HAVE to tell you this: For the past week I've been listening to the classic Art Bell radio shows on YouTube. (Bored with tv). Just this afternoon I was listening to one from 1996 with astronaut Edgar Mitchell. Off and on throughout the show people were mentioning frog deformities in the Minnesota area. (Dr. Mitchell mentioned that if it's natural, it'll eventually correct itself).

    I then found a link where these deformities were mentioned, and how the young one's with these deformities don't normally live into adulthood. (Which would count for their absence in your area all these years later). Their theories are human-made chemicals, the increase of UV light/radiation, or a toxic combination of both.

    Here's that article: http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/fs-043-01/

    In the Google search, it showed the link as having been updated March 2 of this year.

    I just thought you might want to know. I also found it weird that I stumbled upon this by accident like that. Of course, coincidences do happen to me a lot, so....

    1. Hi Kristin, yes I was aware of that problem. After intensive studies they found there were several possible reasons for the frog deformities... here is a PDF from MinnPost... http://www.pca.state.mn.us/index.php/view-document.html?gid=3875

  14. I'm so sorry Diane. This post makes me shed some tears. Things have changed out here in northwest Oregon too. Heartbreaking. I try not to think about it too much. I know that sounds like denial, but it's not. I know all too well what is happening and it makes me feel deep sadness. Big hug to you, and I hope it gets better. Nature is incredibly resilient, and just may bounce back!

  15. So many chemicals, it is a wonder we have any wildlife left. I hope your area recovers and you will hear Spring Peepers again. I wrote about them once on my blog, we heard them at Arabia Mountain in January!

  16. My friend, I am so sorry! This makes me so sad! I did read your other post first, so I am happy you have been getting some bees and butterflies. We have been getting bees this year, more than other years. But, we have been getting birds in, that we have never seen before here. Like Red Wing Black Birds. They are usually around lakes and marshy areas. Nothing like that around us. I feel so sorry for all our animal friends out there. They are either very confused, or have passed on. I feel for you Diane and your little frogs! It's heart breaking! I wonder if they will come back next year? Or was it chemicals that have killed them off? Sending big hugs!


Thank you for leaving a comment! I do read them all and will try to respond if I'm able. Please know that all comments are appreciated, I love to hear your thoughts on my posts! ~ Diane