Toads for pest control

Asked April 30, 2017, 9:09 PM EDT

Hello, After doing some research, I found out toads appear to be good pest control for gardens. Some of my research stated to contact a county extension for possible help. I would like to have some toads in my small garden to get rid of some insect pests naturally, but do not want to add an invasive species by just randomly getting a toad or tadpole online. I live in the dalles and I am wondering if there is a public place to find/capture toads near me. I do hear toads occasionally on the warmer nights, but I do not think there are any in my neighborhood to "catch" with an upside down planting container. Any ideas on how to catch toads or where to buy some non-invasive toads would help. Thanks

Wasco County Oregon

1 Response

In general, moving wild animals around is not a good idea. It can spread disease, and many animals will try to move back to where they came from, often dying in the process. You're certainly correct that toads eat lots of insects and are good natural pest control, and you're also correct that you should *definitely* not buy and release non-native species of toads online or elsewhere. In the Dalles there is one one native species of toad, the Boreal Toad, and this species has declined steeply in numbers throughout the western USA over the past 100 years, for reasons that are still mostly mysterious. For this reason, disturbing a population of Boreal Toads near you (if you can even find one) is an even worse idea than if their populations were stable, and I'm certain that Boreal Toads are not available to purchase online.

However, there is a good chance that you already have native populations of other amphibians in or near your yard, which you could attract by providing habitat for them. All amphibians native to the Columbia River Gorge eat insects, and there's no reason to think that toads are any better at pest control than other frogs or salamanders. A few upside-down planting containers are a good start, and a pond or other water feature *without fish* is even better (amphibians have strong preferences for fishless water bodies). Keep in mind that it can take some time for amphibians to find your habitat—up to a few years for some species.

If you hear toads or other frogs singing occasionally on warmer nights near your home, I can almost guarantee you that they will eventually find habitat that you create. Amphibians move long distances over land every year, sometimes up to several miles. Catching them and moving them to your yard won't accomplish your goal, because they are unlikely to stay there unless there is habitat that they like.

Some advice on creating amphibian habitat: