We have a pond which we lovingly refer to as our “puddle” because, as ponds go, ours is rather small; a mere 8′ on each side and 4 1/2′ deep in the middle. For our family (and the neighborhood) it’s been a fascinating place to learn about many life-cycles of nature as part of our beautiful wildlife garden.
Our favorite residents by far are the toads that appear every spring at the pond to trill and spawn then return to the gardens to live, hunt and eat until late fall when they burrow down into the soil for a long winter’s nap.
The toads from our yard found the pond almost immediately after it was built, lured by the sound of the trickling water. For eleven years we’ve witnessed the toads’ migration each April to the water where they lay eggs wrapped like long gelatinous ribbons around the strands of the cattail leaves.
We’ve learned to mimic their mating trill and listen amazed as they respond! After spawning season, the adults return to the cool, moist soil of the gardens or the damp leaf litter of the old orchard trees, where they’ll eat about 10,000 insects EACH in just one summer season!
Of all the eggs laid, only a small number will complete metamorphosis into toads, but when they do, watch where you step! Little black toads the size of your pinky nail can be seen springing all over the yard as they leave the pond in search of a places to live. Think of all the pests they’ll consume!
You don’t need a pond to attract toads. Encourage beneficial toads in your beautiful wildlife garden by providing shelters for them located near a shallow water source such as a saucer with an inch or more of water. ‘Toad houses’ can be as simple as an overturned broken pot or ‘cave’ made from stones. Create a shallow depression under the house and keep it filled with damp leaf litter because toads ‘drink’ through their skin. Toad houses are a fun project for kids of all ages… and they’re toad-ily cool! Happy wildlife gardening!
Lisa Gustavson, Get in the Garden, gardens in upstate New York
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