Yesterday I was out enjoying our 88-degree weather, double-digging one of this year's new garden beds. There were a number of surprises as I dug, including part of an old foundation, chunks of coal, an old rusty pipe, and broken glass. At one point I unearthed a huge lawn grub, all pasty white, curled in a ball, and squirming. A few minutes later I dug up this gigantic pasty white thing, round and feebly squirming, about two-thirds the size of my palm. I thought it was some over-sized mutant form of lawn grub. It really freaked me out! I looked closer and realized I had dug up a hibernating toad. I never knew they lost all their pigment and warts when they hibernated. This little lady was smooth, off-white, and glistening. I quickly re-buried her in the loosened earth. Hopefully the rude awakening I gave her won't lead to any harm.
Toads are great for the garden. They'll eat many pests. Last year we were overrun with them, which was a really good thing since we were also overrun with grasshoppers. The toads didn't seem to make much of a dent with the grasshoppers, but I hate to think what it would have been like without their help. They definitely kept the squash bug population under control however.
One day last summer I overhead the neighbors sending their grandkids out to hunt and kill toads. They garden too, so I guess they just didn't realize how beneficial toads are for the garden. Or maybe they just are creeped out by them. I can't imagine ever intentionally harming a toad.
The other day I read an article which predicted a particularly bad year for grasshoppers again. It didn't specifically mention Colorado, but did mention enough of the neighboring states to have me concerned. I'll need all the toads I can get this year (and a bunch of floating row covers wouldn't hurt either).