As I lie on the sofa typing this, I am officially a three-toad sloth.
Yes my latest slug patrol on the allotment uncovered not just Biblical levels of slugs, but three actual toads. To be precise: the common toad, bufo bufo – so good they named it twice.
Now I never thought I’d be the sort of person to be overjoyed at the presence of toads, but then again I only recently discovered my life was incomplete without a demijohn, so things do change. If you knew in your 20s what you’d care about in your 40s, you’d die of shame.
The bufo bufo trio – two big ‘uns and this reddish baby – were nestling under three different slug planks:
Fantastic organic slug control! As I took away a large tub packed to the rafters with slugs and snails for rehoming in the lane, I felt rather guilty that perhaps I’d taken away their tea.
I’m sure I need not worry. The slugs are multiplying faster than Met Office weather warnings and I’m sure a whole toad commune could set itself up on the allotment and not go hungry.
The arrival of the toad family does mean rethinking how the slug planks work – most of them double as walkways, so I’ll now have to make sure they’re wedged off the ground with something so that toads don’t get squashed. Maybe the best way will be to fit small cross-struts on the underside of each plank. Another job for next winter when not much else is happening…
The marvellous discovery of the toads came as I returned to the allotment after a few days’ absence caused by illness and yet more rain. I picked the last strawberries and the first raspberries in joyful mood to the accompaniment of greenfinches and a green woodpecker.
A red admiral has also been sighted, and the bees are going crazy round the bed of opium poppies. Hmm, an interesting idea has just occurred for a profitable new crop to take people’s minds off the weather…
But back to the toads: I love tautological critters anyway – I’ve long been a fan of buteo buteo (buzzard) and troglodytes troglodytes (wren). So a tautological slug-muncher ticks several boxes on my list of Most Desirable Allotment Inhabitants.
In my thriving wildlife community, I hope my bufo bufo friends live long and prosper. And guys, can you start with the onion patch please?