Lalique Brem was driving through a wooded area off Arizona Street on Tuesday morning when she had one of the most harrowing experiences of her life.
In front of her car's windshield, she saw what looked like millions of little brown things falling from the trees and carpeting the street in front of her.
She stopped the car to get a better look.
Still, they kept falling out of the trees.
Suddenly, those brownish objects, which at first she thought were acorns, started moving and hopping away.
"The road looked like a mirage," she said. "It was alive with frogs."
Brem said she recalled the biblical story about a plague of frogs and described what she saw Tuesday as a "rain of frogs."
Other drivers began pulling over to witness the sight.
"Everyone was stopping," she said. "They couldn't believe it."
Brem thought at first she may have been imagining things, but her mother was in the car and backed up what she saw. She described the sickening crunching sounds under her vehicle's tires as she drove off.
County Extension Director Stacy Strickland said he's received several calls and emails from residents asking for explanations.
Actually the "plague" of frogs is actually toads -- eastern spadefoot toads, to be exact. And instead of a rain, it is more commonly known as a "jubilee" of toads, he added.
Strickland said these toads -- smaller than a quarter -- are making life interesting for anyone who encounters them, be it near bodies of water in subdivisions or along wooded streets with standing water.
For example, Strickland's secretary recently had to drive over them along Powell and the sound of crunching bodies was a bit unsettling, he said.
Strickland said the toads don't fall out of trees, unless there also happens to be an explosion of tree frogs he doesn't know about.
Some toads carry poison in their systems, but this variety is harmless, he said.
For some reason, they seem to be centered in the Powell Road area.
The toads started swarming because of the torrential rainfall last month from Tropical Storm Debby. The adults sought bodies of water to lay their eggs. Three weeks after the storm, the tadpoles are now making themselves known in a big way.
These toads are "explosive breeders" given to "wild mating" patterns, according to a University of Florida profile on the creatures.
Some ponds have been known to spawn 1 million tadpoles.
They are especially adapted to breeding in temporary ponds, mostly near the woods and those that crop up along the side of roads. Their eggs hatch in one or two days.
The tadpoles feed incessantly and turn into tiny toads in as little as two weeks, the university profile said.
Because they breed in ponds that hold water only for short periods, the tadpoles have few competitors or predators.
Strickland said it is ironic that last year he dealt with a plague of locusts in Ridge Manor. This year it's toads. "This is (our plague) this year," he joked.
Strickland said the toads should be gone in a week or so and he hopes they will do Hernando County at least one favor before they move back to the woods or wherever they live.
"Hopefully, they'll eat a few mosquitoes before they disperse," he said.
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