Tropical water lily pest–the Cuban treefrog tadpole

We now look at another tropical water lily pest–the tadpole of a tree frog.

Some weeks back, I noticed some tadpoles in one of our stock tanks. It happened to be the one that houses our plant stock for N. ‘Charlie’s Pride’. We keep it simple here! No state of the art filters, or unnecessary chemicals. We get dragon flies, damsel flies, ladybugs, and other beneficial critters. We also keep wakin in most of our stock tanks so as to control mosquitoes and provide supplement for the tropical water lilies. Essentially we look to nature to manage the ecosystems and therefore, it was a pleasant sight to see the tadpoles.

Recently there has been some significant damage to our N. ‘Charlie’s Pride’ plant stock. Thankfully each tropical water lily variety is separated into their own stock tank so the damage was contained. The damage that occurred was very severe–water lily pads eaten down to their skeleton. This damage knocked our entire line of N. ‘Charlie’s Pride’ out of commission for awhile.

The remedy

Upon conducting some research, we were able to determine that the tree frog tadpoles belonged to the ‘Cuban tree frog’ which is a non-native species. Our only remedy is to remove all plants and then scoop out all tadpoles with a net. We then remove the destroyed foliage, fertilize the plants, and finally return them to the stock tank. Due to the resilience of tropical water lilies, they spring back rather quickly!

Perhaps with a large pond, this damage may be limited or may not occur but with a small to medium sized pond, these tadpoles could wreak havoc upon your tropical water lilies.

A contributor to this article, “DG” suggested that the tadpoles could be used to educate children. We suggest that a pond owner conduct their own research and if possible seek help from an local agricultural extension agency. If the tadpoles are determined to be native species–share tadpoles with a local school so that children can learn about metamorphosis or even relocate to a local pond or lake.

Photo credit: Picture of tree frogs. Craig Presnell of Luster Aquatic Nursery.

Contributor credit: Educate children about metamorphosis with tadpoles. DG.

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  • lawrence

    hey if u dont want the tadpoles, can u send them to me? or eggs if u see any? i liv in california

  • DG

    Please take a few minutes and read up on the importance of treefrogs and the things that are causing their numbers to dwindle. If at all possible, it would be great for all flora and fauna involved here to transport those tadpoles to a different location. Many elementary schools are interested in letting the children learn about metamorphosis and there’s nothing better than a few tadpoles in a vivarium for that. If no one can take them, even a trip to a nearby pond or lake would be a great place for your “pests.”

  • enzo

    Hello DG, thank you for taking the time to look at our article. We looked at information provided by a UF Gulf Coast Research and Education Center and have determined that the particular tree frog that is responsible is the ‘Cuban treefrog’. This treefrog is not native to Florida so we do not relocate them. This research facility is actually located minutes from our location. I will update our article accordingly and credit you with the educational value.

  • http://Museum-Oil-Painting.BlogSpot.Com Hartmann

    Keep Up A Great Work – Cool :) http://Museum-Oil-Painting.BlogSpot.Com

  • Isa

    Nice post. There’s a similar topic thats related to this in Yahoo answers or Google groups, I think. I’ll find the link and post it back here.

  • Monier

    This is an excellent article! I hope to check back for more

  • islandgal246

    I do have a problem with toads and too many tadpoles in ground level ponds. I would like to know how to prevent frogs from going into the ponds and spawning. i was thinking of laying a 6 inch copper strip at the edge of the pond. Will that help. My other alternative is building a 2 ft high fence with seating.

  • enzo

    @ islandgal246
    I understand that copper is toxic to frogs but I believe they will just avoid the strip. The stock tanks that I grow plants in around 25 inches tall and the frogs jump into them. To my knowledge, there aren’t any deterrents that would not be toxic to fish and other pond life. However, I have noticed that some goldfish eat the tadpoles but only when they are very small.

  • Ron Derrig

    Adult cuban tree frogs eat native toads, native green tree frogs and smaller relatives. Luckily, last winter’s cold temperature in central Florida killed quite a few of the adults, but some are still around and are reproducing very quickly. Goldfish eat the frog eggs, but a high population of tadpoles can quickly kill goldfish by polluting the water with their waste. Relocate cuban tree frogs to a jar stored in your freezer and remove as many eggs as possible before they hatch to help control the tadpole population in your pond.

  • Don F. Aldridge

    The remedy is to NOT stock them in other lakes or ponds. Cuban Tree Frogs are an menace to Florida wildlife and must be destroyed whenever possible.