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Toads: Nature's Pest Control Service

by Karen Lawson, All About Lawns Columnist

As they are common throughout the U.S., toads can be easily attracted to your garden. Chipped flower pots can be an excellent home for your new pest control service. Here's what to do:

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Encouraging Garden Guests

Toads are primarily nocturnal, and are mostly inactive during the day. Here are some steps for encouraging them to live in shady garden spaces:

  • You can chip out a hole along the rim of a terra cotta flower pot. The hole can be created and adjusted using a ceramic tile cutting tool. The entrance hole should be about 2 or 3 inches wide and a couple of inches deep.
  • Place each inverted flower pot in a shady spot where it won't be exposed to direct sun. Toads also enjoy damp garden mulch, as they partially bury themselves during the heat of the day.
  • Use flower pot saucers to provide water near each toad home. Toads drink by absorbing water through their skin, and they prefer a moist environment.

Promoting Garden Safety for Toads and Humans

  • Toads typically don't bite, but their skin may exude a bitter tasting fluid that can irritate your skin. Teach children to respect toads as wild animals and not to handle them. If your pets catch a toad, they should put it down after tasting it.
  • If you have a backyard water feature, toads may lay eggs and hatch their tadpoles in it. Tadpoles can eat the mosquito larvae that quickly turn into biting adult mosquitos.
  • Toads live on insects, grubs, and worms. Avoid using chemical pesticides in areas where toads are present.
  • During winter, toads burrow underground to hibernate. They should reappear after the ground thaws in spring.

Enjoy sharing your garden areas with a toad as it may live up to 20 years, and can earn its keep by clearing pests away from your yard.

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About the Author
Karen Lawson is a freelance writer with an avid interest in gardening and horticulture. She earned BA and MA degrees in English from the University of Nevada, Reno.

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