Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hunters in the Garden


Toads are one of my favorite allies in the garden. They can eat up to three times their weight in insects and slugs each day! Some of their favorite treats include cucumber beetles, grasshoppers, earwigs, cut worms and Japanese beetles. So, it is no wonder the toads love our garden for it is besieged with Japanese beetles. They are all over the rose bushes and are enormous.

Recently this large toad decided to make a rabbits foot fern on our back deck home. It is shaded, moist and he doesn't seem to mind the foot traffic in and out the back door. I suspect he thinks it is a particularly good spot since it is a straight shot to the roses and dinner!


Another predator frequently seen crawling and jumping around in the garden is the praying mantis. They will eat beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, spiders, moths and butterflies. I like to think they eat more of the beetles, grasshoppers and crickets than the butterflies.


This past winter I found an egg sack in our garden which I now know was from a praying mantis (see Can you guess what this is post). This weekend while pruning some hedges we found not one, 

 
not two,


but eight ootheca! 

What was once an unusual find is now common place in our garden and I couldn't be more excited!

If you happen to find one of these egg sacks during spring pruning (or summer which is the case in my garden since it is one of my least favorite chores) or fall cleanup just tie it to a shrub or protected place in the garden. Then when the weather warms the eggs will hatch and you will have insect hunters to patrol your garden. Well, if they don't eat each other first...Happy Hunting!

11 comments:

  1. The toad pictures are great! One of my favorite predators in the garden is the praying mantis. I am always excited when I see them...filled with satisfaction that I have a soldier on my side.

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  2. Great post and photos. That toad looks right at home!

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  3. good to know Karin...and toads hide so well I never see them...hopefully they will start to get to eating the beetles that appeared this weekend in the garden

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  4. Wow - what an exciting find! You'll have lots of praying mantis next year!

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  5. Karin, that is really a closeup in your first photo. We don't have toads or praying mantis here in the city, but plenty at the farm. Now I know what to look for if I see a nest like the one you pictured.

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  6. We had a toad come visit our pond again this year. He's stayed around for a few nights now, serenading me to sleep :-) I also found a praying mantis egg case on a hanging basket on my back porch. So exciting when we find these beneficial critters taking up residence in our gardens, isn't it?!!

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  7. Our preying mantis lays eggs in two tightly regimented rows. Have one on my pegbag at the moment. Hope they chose to emerge when it is on the line outside, not in the laundry. Or I have to carefully escort outside TINY smidgeons of life.

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  8. Sage Butterfly - thank you! The first year we moved to this house 4 years ago I saw 1 praying mantis. Now, I see them all the time. We must be doing something right!

    Debsgarden - thanks! This big guy seems to have settled right in!

    Donna - I first spotted this toad when I was watering. At first glance I thought one of my kids had stuck a rock in the fern. Unfortunately, as much as this guy will eat, I will need an army of toads to control all the beetles we have!

    HolleyGarden - I hope these will all hatch out. I secured the ootheca that were inadvertently cut off while prunning. The rest are still on the shrubbery. Fingers crossed!

    GWGT - I cornered him in the evening and got right in his face. I am sure he thought I was a crazy woman pointing the camera at him. But he was a really good sport!

    Toni - Yes! I it is Nature's way of saying thank you!

    Elephant's Eye - How funny that they laid egg sacks on your pegbag! One Christmas a friend of mine found baby praying mantis crawling on her wall as they had hatched out of an egg sack that was attached to her Christmas tree...a little extra Christmas present!

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  9. I've never seen a praying mantis before but will know what the sac looks like if I do! Frogs too aren't seen around, too dry perhaps. I hear them down at the river in the evenings.

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  10. We love our frogs and toads and praying mantises as well.... now, if only I could get over my snake phobia!

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  11. Karin, the black & white Mantis picture is really great. Great eye !

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"Don't wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your soul"

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