Toxic toads a friend to gardeners

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Eastern American toad must surely be an intimidating sight to any insect that gets too close. The species is common throughout most of its range, which extends from much of eastern Canada down North America's East Coast to North Carolina and west as far as eastern Oklahoma and North Dakota.

As a tadpole, the Eastern American toad is able to emit a toxic chemical. A small fish that eats a few of these tadpoles may be poisoned and die. Similarly, if a small dog eats an adult toad, the dog may become sick and die because of the same toxicity.

This little toad is a beneficial garden habitant with a big appetite for almost any kind of insect. Toads are easy to catch. They are not slimy, and touching one will not cause warts.

Good toad habitat may include a flower garden, a small pond and a pile of sand with a board on top. Toads will hibernate during the cold months by burrowing backward into the ground.

Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at semissourian.com to order a reprint of the photo. Find more work by him at the O'Tenem Gallery.

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