Toad Takeover: North Carolina Frog Population 'Explosively Breeding' After Hurricane Florence

Tens of thousands of frogs have recently spread across the North Carolina Coastal Plain.

Residents of the area noticed the population expansion not long after Hurricane Florence, leading many people to take to social media, claiming that multiple frogs are hanging out on their windows, inside their trash cans or even inside their homes.

However, the increase in the frog population wasn't just from Hurricane Florence—it actually started a few months earlier. In June and July, a large number of tadpoles were born during the abnormally rainy months. Then, toads began "explosively breeding" in the tiny puddles that remained after Hurricane Florence, Jeff Hall, the North Carolina state biologist told the Charlotte Observer.

"Making things even worse is the flooding," Hall said. "All these frogs are in search of dry ground, which is why they're showing up in places they don't normally go... I've heard of people stepping outside and frogs falling on their shoulder, freaking them out. Frogs love tiny cracks, so they get in door seals."

One of the toad populations that is booming is the eastern spadefoot toad. This toad is typically 1.6 to 3.1 inches long, according to the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory at the University of Georgia. The toads are usually tan, yellowish or dark brown and have tiny warts. They're the most abundant in the Coastal Plain but are found throughout the eastern United States. Females can lay up to 2,500 eggs at once and the tadpoles only take 28 days to undergo metamorphosis.

Hall told the Charlotte Observer that people should continue to expect to see large amounts of toads and frogs for a while until the flood waters recede. However, if the amphibian takeover is bothering them, there is one thing they can do: turn their porch lights off.

Baby toad
A baby toad emerges from a pond in Tunbridge Wells, England. DAN KITWOOD/GETTY IMAGES

"Porch lights attract bugs and moths, and it's like a steak house buffet to a frog," Hall said. The toads aren't necessarily bad, either. "They do not pose a threat. It's best to try and deal with them as best we can until the situation changes. There are people with hundreds of little toads running around in their yards and they don't like it, but toads do eat insects."

This isn't the first time toads seem to be falling from the sky. In 2015, thousands of frogs showed up in Tampa, Florida after heavy precipitation in the prior months. Florida saw a huge increase of frogs and toads in 2004 as well, after Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne hit the state.