How to Attract Toads to Your Garden

 What are Toads?

Toads (Bufo bufo) are another type of frog! Scientists do not even distinguish between the two, and call them both frogs. Non-scientists like me consider them two different animals. Frogs are slimy and spend their lives in and around water, while toads have dry skin and spend most of their lives on land, only returning to the water to reproduce and lay eggs.

Both frogs and toads are amphibians. Amphibians are animals that begin their lives in water as tadpoles. Tadpoles breathe through gills like fish and cannot live on land. As they mature, they develop lungs to breathe air and legs to move on land.

Why Do I Want Toads in My Garden?

There is one simple fact that should convince you that you need these creatures in your garden: toads can eat up to 3,000 insects per month. Their diet includes beetles, flies, mosquitoes, crickets, caterpillars, cutworms, worms, slugs and snails.

Why Does Having Toads Indicate a Healthy Yard?

In 1989, the First World Congress of Herpetology was held. Herpetology is just a fancy word for the study of reptiles and amphibians. The audience made a surprising revelation. Amphibian species are quickly vanishing worldwide.

No one is quite sure why we are losing our amphibian populations. One theory is that because their skin is so thin, they absorb chemicals in the environment more easily. All of the herbicides and insecticides we spray in our yards and fields kill amphibians as well as their intended weeds and insects. This may also explain why so many lapses are observed in amphibian populations. Environmental toxins may cause birth defects in tadpoles.

I am an organic gardener. I do not use any chemicals or toxins. So having a healthy population of toads in my garden means a healthy environment in the yard.

How to Attract Toads to Your Garden

You should follow these three procedures to entice toads to your garden:
Providing shelter.
Save water.
Avoid certain plants.

Provide Shelter

The most important thing you can do to attract toads to your garden is to stop using chemicals. The second most important thing you can do is provide shelter. Toads are nocturnal animals. They hide in a safe, shady place during the day. When the sun sets, the toads come out and feed on insects.

Stop cleaning up all the debris in your garden. Leaf litter and litter provide a natural shelter. If you can't stand the sight of a messy garden, sweep the debris into an inconspicuous corner of your garden. Plants with large leaves are also good shelters.

You can create an artificial shelter using an old, broken flower pot. Place it upside down in a shaded place. The opening of the enclosure should be large enough for the frog to comfortably enter and exit. If it doesn't have a hole, place it on a rock so the frog can take shelter under it.

Provide Water

Depth is important if you have a garden pond or want to install one. It must be no more than 20 inches deep and no less than 8 inches deep. Plant aquatic plants found in your area. Toads lay their eggs in threads that attach them to aquatic plants. You will also need to install some sort of ramp so they can get out after entering the pool. A simple slab of rock is sufficient.

The bottom should be clay. Tadpoles feed through the mud in search of algae and other aquatic organisms. Do not let fish into your pond. They will eat both eggs and tadpoles.

If you just want to save drinking water, you can use a shallow dish. Toads do not drink water. They immerse themselves in it and absorb the water through their thin skin. Make sure your saucer is deep enough for him to submerge himself in, but not so deep that he can't get out.

Avoid Certain Plants

Some plants are toxic to toads. Avoid planting snow peas, rhubarb, eggplant, or potatoes near shelter and water. Toxic flowers include daffodils, lilies, azaleas, hydrangeas and honeysuckle. Toads will avoid them.

Be Careful After Dark When Toads are Active

Toads are nocturnal but, like insects, they are attracted to the lights in your garden and home. They know those lights will attract insects. Be careful where you step at night. Always check your car before driving. The trail is set up for toads. I will never forget how upset my family was when my father accidentally ran over Ol’ One Eye, the one-eyed frog that lived in our yard. He was in a rush and forgot to check the driveway before backing up to his car. Ol' One Eye lived in our garden for many years. Toads can live up to 15 years.

Toads also hibernate underground during the winter. So, each spring, collect some garden debris from your fall cleanup and add a saucer of water to let the toads know they are welcome in your garden to provide you with years of free pest control.

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