When I was a kid, it seems there were frogs everywhere, but now, spotting a frog is a special occasion. You feel like writing about it in your diary. Or at least blogging about it. No, I haven't seen an actual frog lately, that would merit its own blog.
As a child, and I will admit it, even as an adult, frogs were my favorite neighbors among the natural world. How cheery little toads seemed, hopping out from underfoot as I walked out on a balmy night. How beautiful green and sleek were green frogs stretching and compacting their muscly bodies as they jumped and swam to the bottom of a pond. How delightful little tree frogs, piping in astoundingly loud for their tiny throats.
I am not alone in my fondness for frogs; it's not for nothing that Toad of Toad Hall steals the show from the mammalian co-stars in Wind in the Willows. Or that the most popular of the Muppets is Kermit. We like frogs. There's something senatorial and yet blandly pleasant in their jowly faces.
Whither are all the frogs of yesteryear?
It turns out, this is not just a product of my imagination; world-wide the population of frogs has been declining for decades. Part of this has to do with toxins in the environment - the herbicide atrazine has been linked to some frogs becoming demasculinized. Another factor is a deadly fungus that seemingly affects all species of amphibians. Some scientists say as many as half of all species of amphibians are threatened with extinction.
The role of amphibians in the environment aside, and who can calculate the tonnage of insects these little critters eat, I like frogs. We must be better and more careful stewards of our planet. We must monitor irruptions of fungal, microbial, and viral plagues diseases even when they affect not humans, but other animals. There are still frogs, just not as many as there once were. I cannot imagine a world without them.