2008-08-11

Biology Lesson

Yes, I realize that this is probably way too repulsive to most of you, but as a biologist I think it's awesome. For about a week I was finding little "presents" on the back steps and patio and couldn't figure out who the probable culprit would be. It didn't smell like dog or cat feces and when I hosed the disgusting sausage shapes off the steps and patio they broke apart to reveal that they were nothing but bug and beetle exoskeletons. I knew that I had been out of school and out of practice for too long when I realized that I couldn't solve my mystery sooner. Just a few days ago, I discovered the culprit and had my 'light bulb moment' when I was moving the extra stones from when we laid the patio. This large(~4.5-5"), plump Woodhouse's Toad (Bufo woodhouseii) has been enjoying the nightly feast of bugs and beetles (mostly June beetles) who are attracted to the light I leave on for the Flag. I decided to leave the stones for a little while longer so our toad friend has a bit more shelter--even if he/she is going to leave scat all over our patio and steps. At least it's helping to control the June beetle population.

P.S. Does anyone else have this problem: Box Elder bugs mating right and left -- everywhere around your house? Their little red babies are everywhere.
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3 comments:

  1. Hey, you solved a mystery for me too! I found very similar excrement on my front steps a few days ago. Evie beat me to it though and grabbed it with her hand (YUCK!) But I was wondering where it came from. We have a lot of frogs and toads in the front yard so I'm going to assume that it's from them!
    As for the box elders....I feel the frustration after years at Lowe Place dealing with them. I have one tip, they don't like dish soap. I prepared a huge bucket of hot water and Dawn and dumped it on them in the areas they were most abundant. As for inside, don't let them get squished by anything because they stain big time! Last resort...call Picerne and kill that tree in the front yard!

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  2. Who wouldn't love toad poop? :) We have huge invasive cane toads down here....my dog loves to chase them and try to eat them. They are very poisonous though and he has had his mouth washed out on many occasions! Ahh...biology...I love it! :)

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  3. :))
    No luck on having the tree cut down, Michelle. Our new neighbor has offered to perform an 'operation' of euthanasia on the tree later this fall, though.

    Matt, I'm so glad there is someone else out there who appreciates the not so elegant side of bio. When I was doing research in Antigua, the cane toads were everywhere (invasive there also). There always seemed to be some poor little mutt that was producing mass amounts of foam, trying to rid the toxins from its mouth and body... Nasty little buggers.

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