I grew up out in the country in northern Minnesota. My siblings and I didn’t have video games or cable TV. We had public television, public radio, and the outdoors (public and otherwise). And, like many other kids, we had a fascination with frogs.
There were ponds and swamps around us filled with thousands of frogs and toads to play with. We collected them in five gallon pails, never really knowing why. But when we got tired of collecting them or Mom called us in, we usually let them go. At night we would lay in our beds with the windows open as the frogs sang us to sleep. I never found it annoying or bothersome. Since I grew up with the sound, I was accustomed to it, sorta like living next to the train tracks or an airport.
You eventually get used to the sound and sight of frogs, and if you are anything like I was as a child, you are rarely bothered by it. For me, listening to the spring peepers, tree toads, and frogs sing to each other was as enjoyable as listening to Kermit sing “It’s not easy being green.” Frogs weren’t a problem for us…but they might be for you.
But apparently too many frogs can pose problems for some people. The singing of frogs has driven some homeowners close to crazy. In Minnesota we don’t have poisonous frogs that kill our pets when they get eaten, but a lot of other states do, so a surplus of these kinds of frogs can be a problem. There are a number of top methods available to get rid of frogs. Some of them are terrible ideas that will lead to future issues by killing all your plants or other critters roaming around your yard. If you use mothballs, they may leach into local water, and if your pets eat them, they are toast.
Below I have detailed some popular methods for getting rid of frogs that are not quite as destructive as mothballs.
Are Frogs Harmful or Helpful?
Before we talk about getting rid of frogs, let's spend a minute examining their worth.
Most of the common frogs in North America are completely harmless. They are not considered invasive, tend to not do damage to structures or gardens, and generally speaking are perfectly pleasant to have around.
Some frogs are poisonous. Actually, all frogs have some low-grade poison glands in their skin to ward of predators, it is just that the typical North American frog has poison glands that are pretty much harmless to humans.
Because of the frog's defense system that is built into its skin, a frog can cause a dog or cat to have nausea and vomiting if they come in contact with each other. But it probably won't kill them, unless you are in a part of the world with some seriously nasty frogs.
Are frogs helpful? As with anything, they are part of the food chain. If you disrupt one part of it, you disrupt the entire thing. Frogs eat slugs and insects that might be gnawing at your garden or lawn, and they serve as important food for larger animals and birds. Therefore, we view the need to get rid of frogs as more of a "nice-to-have" than any kind of public health issue. However, we get it if you don't like having frogs jump around you on your patio as you are attempting to have your morning cup of coffee while reading a book.
Best Ways to Get Rid of Frogs
Next, I will outline a combination of natural and not-so-natural ways to get rid of frogs.
Frog Habitat Modification
There is a reason I put this one first. If you truly want to control frogs, then making an area less appealing for them is the first place is the way to get to the “root cause” of the problem.
Controlling the environment, habitat, and other variables of frog habitat is crucial in getting rid of frogs. If your yard or garden is perfect for frogs, it doesn’t matter how hard you try to chase them away — they won’t be able to resist returning.
Frogs like dark, moist homes with lots of food available. Getting rid of structures where frogs can hide, like wood piles or piles of brush or leaves, helps. If you have a large lawn, consider mowing it short and regularly. This keeps the mosquitoes and other frog food populations at a lower level.
If you have a swampy area in your yard, perhaps a wooded area that is in a lower-lying part of the neighborhood, try your best to keep it drained. if water tends to keep moving, it becomes less-appealing to frogs. An area that drains regularly will generally have fewer frogs.
If you can find the location where they are breeding, scoop out the frog eggs every time you see them. Also, hiring some kids to catch the frogs by hand is very effective, but know that without some habitat modification, your yard will simply become appealing to the next family of frogs that is looking for a place to settle down.
Citric Acid for Frogs
Citric acid has been used in the battle against frog populations and has been proven to be effective. It is relatively easy to acquire at gardening shops, as it is commonly used to help amend soil that is too alkaline. Citric acid is also used in many foods at very low levels….. in fact, it comes from citrus fruit, as the name suggests.
Citric Acid causes only mild phytotoxic damage to plants. Mix up a 16% solution, which is 1.3 pounds dry citric acid to one gallon of water. Put the solution in a sprayer and spray the frogs directly, if you are trying to eradicate them. Only direct exposure will kill the frogs.
If the goal is to make your garden less appealing to frogs without necessarily killing them, try leaving the citric acid in spots around your garden. If you worry about killing your plants, just keep the citric acid along the dirt in containers that won’t spill. This will help reduce the damage, and perhaps avoid killing too many helpful bugs later.
You can order citric acid at Amazon.
Saltwater for Frog Prevention
Saltwater seems to have some affect on frogs much like it does on slugs. The salt seems to burn their moist skin and scares them away.
If you want to use the saltwater approach, it is relatively simple, and uses two things that are naturally found in the world: Water, and salt. What you do is mix up a solution of saltwater and spray it around the areas the frogs congregate. It will burn cause discomfort when they hop over the sprayed area. A little warning—all this salt is gonna be hard on any plants in the area. If you are using this method on plants that are not salt-lovers, they will brown around the edges and eventually flop over dead from dehydration.
This is best used on hardy plans, or perhaps on some kind of soil berm near plants, allowing the soil to absorb and moderate the salt.
Prefer dry salt? Salt repels frogs too.
You don’t have to mix salt in to water in order to repel frogs. You can simply use dry salt, if you have enough, on the ground as long as it is not in contact with your plants.
Form a perimeter around the area you are trying to protect, using the cheapest form of salt granules you can find. This method works especially well in situations where the source of frogs is clear — perhaps a wet woodland sits just off the back of your yard.
The salt will create a barrier that the frogs really don’t want to touch. It works great on slugs too.
Epsom salt is a good choice, because it is generally easier on the surrounding soil and not terribly expensive – about a buck a pound here on Amazon.
Caffeine for Frogs
Caffeine has been approved for experimental usage in Hawaii as a pesticide. It is still in the experimenting phase as the affects on the ecosystem need to be observed. But early research showed a 2% solution of caffeine killed 100% of the frogs exposed to it. That is a pretty promising early finding!
The specific frog being targeted in Hawaii was the Coqui frog. It is unclear on if caffeine would work as well on other frog types as it did on that one, but it seems worthy of further investigation.
How does it work? Caffeine causes irregularity in their heartbeats (heart attacks). It also killed a bunch of snails, slugs, and lizards in the testing area. A 2% solution is 125 times stronger than cola, so that would also mess a human up pretty badly. But you can use leftover coffee, which is about 0.1–0.05% concentration, to deter frogs. This solution will not kill them, but it may scare them off.
If you do this, I would not use your high-end Starbucks coffee. That is a waste. Get some good old Folgers on Amazon, and economize…..or simply use your used coffee grounds.
Using Bleach on Frogs
Again, in the category of “It works, but you might be a little cruel,”, bleach leach surprisingly has been used to ward of infestations of frogs, too. The recommended solution is fairly weak, but it is apparently enough to keep the little critters out.
How you do it at home is to mix 1/3 cup bleach to 3 gallons of water or just under 2 tablespoons per gallon. I would not recommending spraying this onto plants as bleach will most likely kill them.
You also need to be careful when handling bleach, as it can cause both skin burns as well as bleach stains in clothing. Treat bleach as if it is a volatile, dangerous chemical, and keep it away from children.
Frogs For Sale!
In the end, you need to assess the situation and decide for yourself what lengths you are willing to go to and how much you are willing to sacrifice to get rid of frogs. If you only have a couple of frogs, I would try the hands-on approach. Catch them by hand. It is easy and saves you killing a bunch of other stuff or damaging the environment. If you have more than a few frogs and you just absolutely must get rid of them even though they are crucial to our environment and eat nasty disease-carrying bugs, use the methods described here and you will have success. If you have delicate plants, keep these in mind when choosing your weapon. Many of these chemicals I have talked about can and will hurt your plants. My favorite method for getting rid of frogs is still catching them. But maybe that is unrealistic in today’s world. Kids today would rather play a video game called “Frog Catcher” than actually go outside to catch a frog or two.
Natural Frog Control Tips
- Amphibians love moist areas, like piles of brush and leaves, so keeping the area around your house dry will deter the frogs from sticking around.
- Keep your lawn mowed. This will reduce insect populations and keep the area dry, thereby discouraging frogs.
- Hire the kids to catch the frogs. My grandpa used to pay us a nickel for every potato bug we caught. I never got rich but I had fun.
- If you have a pond in your area, you can scoop out the frog eggs before they hatch. If it is a garden pond, consider draining it. Also, keeping the water moving will decrease mosquito populations.
Best Natural Frog Controls
Some of the items we mention above could be considered organic or natural -- coffee, after all, is natural. Citric acid is a naturally-found compound, too.
But I know that some people prefer a truly natural method of controlling critters, so here are a few alternatives. Know that natural does not always mean frog-friendly.
Frog traps are primarily water-based contraptions that are partially exposed at the top where the frogs jump in. These traps were invented by fisherman looking for a new way to catch frogs for bait. They are also popular with people who love a mess of frog legs rolled in corn meal and deep fried — typically a southern thing.
If you know a fisherman, offer the frogs to them. Frogs are a common bass lure and used as bait for other types of fish, too. The frogs will be alive when you check the trap (assuming you are checking regularly) so many fishermen or bait shops might really value them, especially if they know they are getting them for free.
In fact, if you wanted to go this route, Amazon sells Dimart Frog Traps for a reasonable price. This trap also works for crayfish and other little critters.
Get Rid of Frogs in Your Pool
Swimming pools seem especially inviting for frogs, who come upon the pool and think it is another pond for them to explore. The problem, of course, is two-fold. First, pools are hard to get out of for a frog, and even a hardy frog is not meant to live in water for long periods of time. Second, the chemicals that help keep a pool clean are lethal to frogs because of how much they process through their unique skin.
Use a pool cover, consider a small fence, and install a FrogLog. A FrogLog is basically a floating step that will allow a frog to exit the pool if it happens to get in. It won’t solve your problem, but it will reduce the number of dead frogs you find in your swimming pool. Find the FrogLog here on Amazon.
Hire a Kid for Frog Control
When I was a kid, my Grandpa was an expert potato grower. My Grandpa loved working his potato patch. And when the potato bug would come to visit, he paid me a nickel for each one I caught.
Try something like this with your frog problem. Kids generally are not as grossed-out by frogs as they are of snakes, and unless you live in the outback, you probably are not going to risk a kid catching a poisonous frog. Pay them to catch frogs, and then either you or they can go and release them at a nice marshy area or pond, preferably several miles away.
This is good for the local youth economy, and probably the one way of disposing frogs that is most in harmony with nature.
Note, though, that if you don’t modify your habitat, there is a good chance that a new family of frogs will find your place someday.
If you must kill a frog, do it right
Notice that we give you several options that do not involve killing the frogs. We know our readers, and know that euthanizing frogs is only a popular choice with some of them.
If you decide to kill frogs, the fastest and arguably most humane method is simply to strike them over the head once. If done well, it should be quick, relatively painless, and not involve suffering. Just so you don’t waste good frogs, perhaps try to offer them to a bait shop if you have one in your area.
However, if you can, try relocating them to a place in some wild habitat. You will put them in their more natural environment, allow them to live, and let nature (hawks, racoons, foxes) be what controls the frog population, versus an annoyed homeowner.
Did you Know?
North America has One Poisonous Frog
North America has one poisonous frog, the Pickerel Frog. It generally lives in the Eastern and Northeastern USA, and secretes a low-grade poison when touched by predators. The impact on humans is mild, but the impact on other frogs can be lethal.
Much more dangerous frogs, the Poison Dart Frogs, live in South America and parts of Central America. Fortunately, most readers of this website don’t have to worry about them.
Frogs can Drown
A frog, being an amphibian, can survive in water as well as on dry land. They begin their life in water, and the move more predominantly to dry land.
But unlike fish, a frog can actually drown. Frogs cannot have their lungs fill with water. If they do, they will drown just like a land animal. Rather, frogs can absorb oxygen through their skin while in the water, but if there is not enough oxygen in the water, the frog will drown.
So, while a frog can spend much more time in water than a human can, it can actually drown under the wrong conditions.