Even though their ickyness sends shivers through the spines of many a person, bugs are fascinating creatures...honest! Insects, spiders, and other creepy crawlies make up most of the animal life on earth.
Insects have been around for something like 350 million years. Many years before humans showed their faces. Humans appeared about 130,000 years ago.
With bugs being such a massive part of our world, you might as well learn more about them, and you never know, you might even grow to like them?
Alright, so you do not want to make friends with bugs. But you still might like to invite them to dinner – that is, if you are an adventurous eater! No being serious, there is a wealth of information at the click of a link here on NatureWatch. The BBC's Springwatch, and AutumnWatch sites are fantastic, as are the others, so get that mouse clicking and start learning.
You do not have to like insects to appreciate them. But now that you can see how interesting and beautiful they can be, you may not be so quick to squish the next bug you see. Instead, get that camera out and send us a photograph.
Send in your photographs of birds and butterflies too. In-fact, send in your pictures of all things to do with nature. Whatever it is, let us have it. We LOVE it!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Toads by Peter Berry

NATUREWATCH contributor Peter Berry has been busy with his camera taking photographs of toads. Here he has written a little about their habitat.
Peter said he counted at least 70 at a pond in Loughborough.

“They had spawned – and it was the first time I had seen toad spawn up close. Very different to frog spawn, which is in clumps. Toad eggs are laid in long strings.” 
The common toad is a widespread amphibian found throughout Britain. It’s generally brown or olive brown in colour – young specimens are often brick coloured. The skin is warty and often appears dry. Glands in the skin contain powerful toxins and predators quickly learn not to attempt to eat toads.

The common toad can be found in almost any habitat and is common in gardens. It prefers larger water bodies in which to breed, and because toxins are also present in the skin of the tadpoles, they are able to breed in ponds and lakes containing fish, which learn to avoid the distasteful tadpoles. 
The toads congregate at breeding ponds in early April but for the rest of the year will wander well away from water as they are far more tolerant of dry conditions than the frogs.
Common Toads feed on any moving prey small enough for them to swallow, and they are most active at night.
Toadlets emerge in August usually after a heavy rain and in huge numbers. At this stage of their lives they are extremely small and speckled with gold, and toads can live up to 50 years.

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