Neighbor to Neighbor

Dappled in patches throughout LV/ES we have some secretive friends who keep to themselves and act generally like good neighbors. These polite residents are the Couch’s Spadefoot Toads.  They spend much of their time deep underground where they can find moisture, although they do come out on occasion to go on late evening strolls in search of insects. 

These funny amphibians are surprisingly successful throughout dry deserts, living in regions that seem like the last place you would expect to see a frog. Once they reach adulthood, Couch’s Spadefoots can survive without rain for years! They do have one major drawback, however, that keeps them from being widespread across the area, and from being the world’s best neighbor: they are entirely dependent on standing water pools that last at least one week.

When the monsoon rains arrive, this is when the toads truly come alive! Studies have shown that the sounds and vibrations of heavy rain and thunder bring out the toads in force, and they meet at the all-important temporary ponds for massive toad blowout parties! After the rains, the sound of the toads’ calls can be almost deafening. I enjoy the toad orchestra, though it definitely lowers their score as neighbors.

Eggs are laid the first night after the rains and, in just 24 hours, tadpoles will hatch! Most impressively, in as little time as one week, the tadpoles will be fully metamorphosed into tiny toads.

The moral of this story is that toads rely on these temporary pools, so it is very important for us to make sure we don’t block off pools or waterways, and make sure the toads can reach them. The toads will live in our yards, and even in parking lots; all they ask is to get their annual party to ensure that there will be a next generation of 4-star neighbors.

If you have a seasonal pond on your property — or somewhere near you — please keep the toads in mind before you make a wall or berm, and they will thank you! Chance Stevens!