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Build it and they will come

May 31, 2012

Ok, so everyone who has been here before knows that a couple of months back I built an amphibian pond sort of on a whim (translation: mrs cohutt didn’t know about it until it was installed. oops).

The idea was to make an interesting and attractive addition to the garden scheme that was functional as well. Functional means providing water for wildlife and increasing the biodiversity in the area, mainly to attract beneficial insect, birds and amphibians.

Bottom line I had slugs and earwigs overtaking the garden and needed some help in the form of toads, the nocturnal rulers of the garden and supremely effective predators, especially for slugs and snails.

We have been experiencing an unusually early and long hot dry stretch here so I figured my pond would be even more attractive to toads should any be in the area. Back on May 19th I sent a text inside to mrs cohutt @ dusk saying saying that I was pretty sure I heard toads courting from a distance, one to the north and one to the south of my property.

But alas, not a bit of action in the pond (the baby tree frogs were the result of tadpoles rescued from a friend’s pool cover) and I hadn’t heard the toads “bleating” again since then. I have a neon “open” sign flashing over my perfect pond and nearby “toad houses”, so I wonder: Are the local toads just as illiterate as the average local homo sapien?

So last Tuesday night we had a 30 minute storm around 10:30 that dumped about an inch of much needed rain on us. Wednesday morning I went out to pick some berries for breakfast and did a quick walk through of the rest of the garden and was stunned to see this in the pond:

Hallelujah.

These are definitely toad egg strings, as most other amphibians that would be in this area have eggs that clump into large masses (these pictures don’t show the strings very well but they are there.

When I was confirming the eggs’ ID I also discovered that toads typically only breed the nights after decent rains.

Well duh.

It makes sense that they are hardwired for this since it improves the chances of water being around long enough for the eggs to go full cycle into frogs. The “dry pond” egg layers have long ago been thinned out of the gene pool.

So the two courting toads probably converged on my property on the night I heard them or shortly thereafter and were just waiting for nature’s signal to “get it on”. Wednesday evening after dark they were calling to each other again in very short bleats, so they are still here. And since a female toad can lay hundreds of thousands of eggs in a season (May – August here), I’ll probably be seeing a LOT more eggs in the future.

And a lot less slugs.

Go team!

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 31, 2012 8:38 am

    That’s great. Glad you’re getting some breeding action. Looking forward to pix of the tadpoles, etc.

    • May 31, 2012 4:51 pm

      Glad you’re getting some breeding action

      Well…… actually it is the toads that are getting the breeding action…..

  2. Mike permalink
    May 31, 2012 8:42 am

    We are PLAGUED by slugs!!! I’ve tried the beer traps and such. I’ve read the putting copper flashing around the tops of the raised beds would help stop them but with the the price of copper these days I could afford to put in a huge pond.

    • May 31, 2012 4:52 pm

      you have that part right lol

  3. May 31, 2012 2:28 pm

    I LOVE that story! (that’s a movie line but it’s also very true) Go Team is RIGHT! I keep wanting to build a pond but I’ve got SO much to do that takes priority over it (dangit) This is great & I love the pics of the eggs!

    PS… not sure how it would work out there where you live but I know when I lived in Utah & had a bunch of slugs & snails I read in Mother Earth News that I could bait them & subsequently drown them if I put beer in a little cake pan (I used a 9″ cake pan)! It worked so well my husband wanted to make beer flavored escargo. I declined. Got rid of the little slimers though!

    • May 31, 2012 4:54 pm

      thank you.

      the beer saucers are too labor (and beer) intensive for the number of beds I have

      I’ve protected vital slug targets (strawberries) with yeast based bait around their perimeter and it sort of worked but not perfectly.

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