Microcosmic Drama

Teeny-Tiny Toad (actual size 1/4 inch)

Jim and I have a very small pond in our yard: 125 gallons empty, a lot less water when one accounts for displacement from plants (blue pickerel weed, aquatic plantain, underwater grass) and the dirt they hold, creating a little marshy section at one end.

Nonetheless, it has become the key element in the miniature ecosystem that is our yard.  One of the many native creatures that benefits from it are New Mexico Spadefoot toads.  This year, we have an ebullient population of tadpoles that are in the process of turning into toads.

The toadlings are super tiny (less than a quarter inch) and easily mistaken for insects.  Until we started watching them go through the various stages from black dots to “Hey, I have legs!”, I never realized all the hazards they face.

Monday morning, I saw a teeny-tiny toad hopping from boulder to boulder that is the small gravel around our pond.  I scooped it up, intending to either to either place it back into the water or into shelter under one of the spreading squash leaves.  To my horror and astonishment, I discovered that it was being attacked by ants.

Not big ants either.  Two really little ones.  One ant each had grabbed each hair-sized hind leg (actually, hair-sized is probably too large) and was holding fast.  Being on the side of the toads, I dropped the toadling into the pond, where it succeeded in kicking loose the ants and diving under a lily leaf.

I think I’ll lower the water level a few inches to keep ambitious toadlings from hopping out until they’re a wee bit larger.

Yeah.  I can’t save them all or the world.  I know ants need to eat, too, but there’s plenty for the ants to eat without eating toads.

Silly?  Sure.  But then, I write books for a living.  Do you expect me not to be silly?

10 Responses to “Microcosmic Drama”

  1. Beverly Martin Says:

    Good for you! I can just imagine that episode from the toadling’s perspective!

  2. King Ben's Grandma Says:

    Not silly at all! I would’ve done the same. We humans have done so much damage to our planet and our fellow inhabitants, fauna and flora. Lending a helping hand here and there is the least we can do.🐸

  3. anevergreen Says:

    As there are 4+ species of ants trying to invade my house at the moment, I’m definitely anti-ant/pro-toad!

    • janelindskold Says:

      We do serious ants here, too. Because we don’t want to harm the toads or lizards or other wildlife, we use the baits and mint spray to cut the scent trails. I’ve used gift perfume I’m not likely to wear, too, but mint is nice. Good luck with your invasion!

  4. Harried Harry Says:

    I’m anti-ant since they love to invade my house. I live in the country so ants are always an issue. One way of keeping them out of places like houses is to make a mixture of sugar and baking soda or boric acid. These items are not harmful to the environment but do kill the ant colonies. Good luck getting them out of the house. Peppermint spray also works well for getting rid of mice! They lose there ability to track things so they leave.

    We have lots of toads around our place, especially in the garden. They eat the bugs so we aren’t bothered as much. We love the hummingbirds since they are pretty and they eat the flying insects.

    Good luck with your summer plans.

  5. Debby Barker Says:

    I help rehabilitate at a local nature center. I know that there are probably millions of rabbits in Missouri — but the ones I help with are MY rabbits.

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