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Amphibians stop traffic in Akron
Night-time migrations to local sex orgies

Mark Urycki
Sand Run Parkway at Merriman Rd. is sometimes closed at night due to amphibian migration
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In The Region:

Spring is the time for orange barrels to bloom and roads to close. In Akron, the intersection of Merriman Road and Sand Run Parkway closes every year at this time – but only at night – and only for a very special reason. WKSU’s Mark Urycki explains.

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Cross traffic is heavy at night here on Sand Run Parkway. That’s why barriers are closing the road.

The traffic is hard to see though; it’s a combination of spotted salamanders, wood frogs and spring peepers. Biologist Ramsey Langford from the Summit County Metro Parks says these amphibians are migrating back to their birthplace, a vernal pool.

A few months after hatching “they will live out the next two to three years on land until they hit sexual maturity and then head back to the pool they once came from," he explains.

The park has been closing the road for a short period each spring for the last 10 years to prevent automobiles from killing hundreds of the amphibians.

Vying for attention

It's the spring peepers and wood frogs are making all racket.Those are males trying to attract females. “It’s sort of like the loudest call gets the most females,” says Langford.

When the weather cooperates (salamanders like wet conditions and temperatures around 50 degrees), The Summit Metro Parks hosts public programs around the migration area.

The Parkway is closed at Merriman Road so they ask people to meet further south at the Old Portage Area in Sand Run Metro Park, 1300 Sand Run Pkwy., Akron.

Programs are announced on Facebook and via the seasonal information line (330-865-8060).

But Peepers can suddenly drop their calls to complete silence, apparently when they suspect a predator is near. They are only about an inch long.

Not so different from rock stars.

But spotted salamanders can live 30 years and grow to 6 or 8 inches long.   

Langford recommends visitors don't touch the amphibians because it can harm the animals.  “Look with your eyes not with your hands.”

The parade of critters so they're less likely to be eaten by birds.  

Images with audio

Summit Metro Parks biologist Ramsey Langford on the life cycle of a salamander

Summit Metro Parks biologist Ramsey Langford on the life cycle of a salamander

(Click image for larger view.)

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