Toads and Frogs
Gulf Coast Toad (Incilius nebulifer) in a dog dish near you. Photo by Maggie Dwyer.
Frogs and toads are similar, and both are beneficial. In general, frogs have smooth skin, narrow waists, and long legs for leaping. Toads are wider, have warty skin and short legs for hopping. Both of these amphibians are found on land and in water, but toads can live far from water.
Chorus frogs are not seen as much as heard. During breeding season, they sing day and night near shallow bodies of water. They hide in grass and other vegetation and are extremely hard to spot. Tree frogs are equipped with adhesive-padded toes and long legs and toes to help them cling to twigs and climb trees. Many tree frogs can change color from brown to green to gray to patterned. Some baby tree frogs are bright green. Spadefoots have a small sharp-edged spade on the hind feet, used to dig burrows in the soil. They spend most of their time underground but appear on the surface after heavy rains.
All toads and frogs eat and thus help control insect pests, slugs, and snails. These garden friends can be encouraged by using organic products and avoiding toxic pesticides. They are all very sensitive to pesticides. Toxic poisons are easily absorbed right through their skin and do great damage.
Make your yard inviting to toads by not disturbing the leaf litter in gardens and beds early in the spring, and in the heat of summer they like a dip in a tray of water, or in this instance, in the dogs' outside water dish.