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Frog-friendly Backyard With Margot Fass

When Pittsford resident, Margot Fass, heard about the extinction of an entire frog species due to human actions, her lifelong love for whimsical frog creations evolved into a passion to advocate for the amphibians and their habitat conservation. She says frogs are essential bioindicators and vital components of the food chain. Frog health reflects the health of the entire ecosystem, and we should all do our part to help preserve our world, she says.

Fass created frog-friendly gardens and ponds in her own backyard and was recently certified as an official pollinator-friendly yard through Cornell Cooperative Extension. She also actively advocates for wetland restoration and habitat creation at her nearby Robert C. Corby Arboretum and Wildlife Sanctuary. Through this activism, Fass envisions an environment healthy for all life, emphasizing kindness and compassion, chemical-free properties, clean wetlands, and nitrogen-restorative native plants. Through art, advocacy, and education, Fass inspires individuals to embrace a harmonious relationship with nature, one frog at a time.

Through her non-profit, A Frog House, Fass spreads the word on conservation to groups large and small, in hopes that we humans can together save species and help protect the world. Fass shares small, meaningful ways we all can make a difference.

To Create Your Own Frog Haven Backyard

  • Avoid chemicals in gardening

  • Plant native pollinating plants

  • Install small ponds

  • "I have built and rebuilt three ponds. The first frog was in 2021 in a water dish, and we have had as many as 13 frogs at one time in our small pond!"

Native Plants that Help Support Frogs

I have planted sedges, grasses, Joe Pie Weed, and from the list below, all but the last two:

  • Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis): The vibrant red flowers of the cardinal flower that naturally grows in wet soil attracts insects as a food source and provides cover from predators. (Hummingbirds love it too).

  • Milkweed (Asclepias spp.): Milkweed is a host plant for monarch butterflies, but it also attracts a wide range of insects frogs love to eat. Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) attracts insects and provides habitat for frogs in moist areas.

  • Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia spp.): The bright yellow flowers of black-eyed Susans attract insects, which are an essential food source for frogs.

  • Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis): This native shrub produces spherical flowers that attract pollinators and provide cover for frogs near water bodies.

  • Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa): Wild bergamot is a nectar-rich plant that attracts pollinators, benefitting frogs by providing a steady supply of insect prey.

  • Frogfruit (Phyla nodiflora): This low-growing ground cover provides shelter for small frogs and attracts insects, a vital food source for many frog species.

  • Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata): Pickerelweed is a native aquatic plant that grows near the water's edge. It offers cover and shade for frogs and provides habitat for insects and other aquatic creatures.

Tangible Ways to Help Frogs

If you are excited about helping frogs, but you don’t know where to begin, A Frog House offers these suggestions:

In Your Home

  • Eat organic food, mostly   vegetables and plants; if you eat meat, avoid frogs legs

  • Responsibly dispose of unused medications; do not flush them down the toilet

  • Avoid personal care products containing plastic microbeads

  • Avoid purchasing, transporting, or collecting wild amphibians or spawn, and if you have any, don’t release them into the wild or into sewage

At School

  • Refuse to dissect frogs

  • Prepare your own presentation/paper on the importance of frogs

  • Plan an educational visit from A Frog House

  • Prepare for our 2nd annual Art and Poetry Contest

On Your Property

  • Maintain a chemical free property, avoiding unnatural pesticides, fertilizers, and environmental estrogens

  • Reduce lawn area

  • Create a frog pond

  • Create a rain or other garden full of native plants

  • Eliminate or avoid non-native plants and animals (including fish)

  • Pick up pet waste

  • Conserve water

  • Leave leaves on the ground and native aquatic vegetation and dead wood near ponds

  • Create a compost heap

  • Protect amphibians from pets

Your Environmental Contribution

  • Don’t move spawn from one pond to another

  • Reduce use of plastics and fossil fuels

  • Watch what you throw away and where you throw it away

  • Drive carefully; become a toad patroller

  • Join campaigns to stop the frog and salamander trade

  • Look, listen, and learn – educate yourself and your family about amphibians

  • Visit the Association of Zoos and Aquariums facilities

  • Report signs of disease

  • Help us advocate, collaborate, and educate

Meet Margot Fass

Favorite Restaurant: Simply Crepes, Aladdin’s

Favorite Vacation Destination: 65 State Street, Pittsford

Favorite Outing with Family & Friends: Erie Canal Tow Path Trail, Erie Canal Nature Preserve, Robert C. Corby Arboretum and Wildlife Sanctuary

Favorite Thing About Living in Pittsford & Western NY: I love the people and the landscape

Favorite Warm Weather Drink: Lemon Ginger Kevita 

Favorite Plant/Flower in Your Garden: Volunteers, like a geranium that came in a compost load, an American toad that came in another, and a grey tree frog that rode in on a plant from Gallea’s, are so much fun

Favorite Resource You Use to Learn More About Frogs: SAVE THE FROGS! The Amphibian

Foundation – – founded in 2008, is an international team of scientists, educators, policymakers, and naturalists dedicated to protecting the world’s amphibian species: the frogs, toads, newts, salamanders, and caecilians.

2024 Public Events at A Frog House

May 5th - Oct 31st 1-5 pm: A Frog House opens to the public on Sunday afternoons and by special request

May Date TBD 6:30 - 8:30 pm: Zoom Presentation by Tom Biebighauser of proposed plans for the Village Arboretum

August 11th 1-5 pm: Froggy Family Fun(d)raiser Birthday Party at 65 State Street, Pittsford

Date TBD (Follow A Frog House on FB or sign up for the newsletter for details) 6 to 9 pm: Gala fundraiser, Lindsay’s 60th birthday party, food galore, cash bar

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