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Finding toads in the vegetable beds

Posted by Miranda Hodgson on 30 Apr 2010 at 03:33 PM

Before saying anything about the toad, I was interested to note that several people have told me that they’ve seen bee flies about since I wrote about them last week and some said that they’d thought, at first, that they were seeing actual bees, rather than a mimic. I’ve been looking out for them and have seen another half a dozen or so.

Since we took the current vegetable garden on, in the autumn of 2008, we’ve noticed an increase in earthworms - which will draw toads (aka Bufo bufo) to the garden, because earthworms are part of the diet of toads. No doubt the worms are attracted to the compost and manure we’ve been digging in. In places, there are so many of them that we can’t see a way to use a rotovator without slicing them all up and we don’t want to do that, so we dig instead. Aside from the worms, we both have a horror of inadvertently chopping up frogs and toads. Maybe if we had a much bigger garden, we’d use power tools but, although hand tools can make for hard work, there is a pleasant rhythm to using them and, at the very least, they are quiet.

The toad of the day was found some 15cm (6 inches) under an area of earth that had been covered with black plastic to warm it up in readiness for planting and we were giving the soil a final dig over. The toad would have been resting there, waiting for night to fall, when it would have emerged to hunt for worms, slugs and snails. This one clearly wasn’t pleased at being unearthed for, as soon as I turned the camera in its direction, it started pushing firmly at the soil with its back feet, backing itself into the soil with surprising speed.


The toad digging itself back into the soil


What to do? We couldn’t leave it there and continue digging, so we took it into an overgrown corner of the garden and set it down, whereupon it made its way off through a patch of grass and nettles and was soon lost from view. Hopefully it won’t have to go through the indignity of being dug up again for some time.


richardpeeej said:

Lovely pictures of the toad Miranda and very considerate to move him elsewhere. We have seen some frogs in our garden recently, possibly due to the little ponds there now.


on 30 Apr 2010 at 08:03 PM

David Benson said:

Gorgeous pics - so earthy and moist. Don't they spray poison when disturbed?

on 02 May 2010 at 02:01 PM

Miranda Hodgson said:

Richard, how lovely that your ponds are attracting frogs! I bet you'll enjoy watching them.

Thanks, David. You're right, toads secrete a vile tasting substance called bufagin, which puts off most predators, though hedgehogs and grass snakes are apparently immune to it. No idea what it tastes like and don't intend finding out!

on 02 May 2010 at 03:29 PM