Toads — so ugly they are cute. And, even better, mosquitoes and slugs are their favorite meals. Each one can consume up to 50-100 of them each night. The American toad, bufo americanus, is common through out most of the United States.

To welcome them to your yard, you must provide hiding places for them. During the day, they hide in cool, shady spots like rock outcroppings, under heavy vegetation or under mulch. They do not like to be disturbed by human company, but if happy, can remain in your yard for up to 20 years.

Unlike frogs, the adults live on dry land. But, like frogs, they must have water to breed. Their eggs hatch into tadpoles, which must remain submerged until maturity. Having a water garden helps keep them around. And, the adults will also feed on mosquito larvae, as will the tadpoles.

Courtship occurs near the water, then the actual mating in the water. The female then lays a long strand of gelatinous eggs, each with a small dark spot in the center. If you find a cluster of eggs, rather than a strand, you have frogs on the way.

All kinds have a dry, rough skin. They repel predators by secreting a noxious tasting substance when threatened. If you have ever seen a dog take one into it’s mouth, you have also seen how very quickly the dog drops it.

While they do not need a constant moist environment, as frogs do , they do need a water supply to cool off and for drinking. They “drink” through their skin. So, if you are going to attract and keep them around your yard, you should bury a small water container where the toad can take a dip. Just don’t forget to change the water often to keep mosquito larvae out; the toads will have plenty of adults to feed on anyway.

A broken clay flowerpot with a two-inch opening makes a great toad house. Just put the water container nearby. Like mosquitoes, toads feed at night and rest during the day.

If you stock your water garden with mosquito fish be aware that the mosquito fish will eat the tadpoles, in addition to mosquito larvae.

If you have not noticed any in your yard, you can import some. Just find a nearby ditch or pond in late spring and look for tadpoles. Be sure to bring home plenty of water from their original home and don’t add any chlorinated water while they are developing. Once they mature, provide the living conditions they like, and you will have some excellent mosquito eaters on hand. And, the average yard can accommodate several, so stock up.