We have a toad living in our garden. :D It's a nicely plump, medium-sized fellow, who I first saw when I was watering the garden the other day (free shower!), and who was hunkered down in a lovely little hollow next to the garden fence this morning. Can you find the camouflaged and partially-buried toad in this picture?
What a lovely creature. The name "Bobby" was Paul's suggestion, the idea being that this is one of those names that could work for either a boy or a girl. I think it fits pretty well.
I may not know the gender of this creature, but for once I am pretty confident about the species. We have two species of toads in Connecticut, and I've had some trouble identifying individual toads in the past, but this guy seems to be a pretty clear example of an American Toad. These black outlines around individual "warts" on its back are characteristic of the species, and I think the patterns are rather beautiful:
I strongly encouraged Bobby to relocate to a more central location in the garden -- the hiding place in the first couple of pictures was dangerously close to the gate and therefore my feet -- and he or she has been hanging out among the carrots all afternoon. I like having a little amphibian friend around, and I hope the garden proves to be a suitable long-term home. :)
While I was out with the camera, I couldn't resist taking pictures of some more insects in the garden. There's a whole world of tiny creatures out there!
Here's a tiny leafhopper with a cool design -- it's a Saddled Leafhopper (Colladonus clitellarius):
This brightly-colored creature is some sort of sawfly, in the family Argidae, and I haven't been able to figure out any identification details other than that:
And this is a long-legged fly (family Dolichopodidae) -- can you believe the colors on this thing?
The internet tells me that long-legged flies prey on other insects, and they're actually good to have in a garden. So here's an example of a creature I never thought to pay attention to before, but when I stopped to look closely and learn about it, not only does it turn out to be gorgeous, but beneficial as well!
Here's a really bizarre insect that I just learned about. Can you tell what's going on here?
This is the larva of a Clavate Tortoise Beetle, and it's really super weird. The green oval-shaped thing with the spines is the actual creature. That big crinkly brown thing on its back? That's a mass of dried excrement. Poop. I couldn't make this stuff up. The larva actually holds this thing up over its back with a special "fork" on its hind end, and it can wave it around at will. Various internet sources suggest that this is some sort of defense mechanism, or a means of camouflage. Either way, blech. Also, ew.
So you can see what this weird thing grows into, here's a picture of an adult Clavate Tortoise Beetle that I took about a month ago:
These beetles really like my tomato plants (that is, to eat), so I'm keeping an eye on them. There are only a couple of these bugs around right now, but if more appear and start doing significant damage, it might be squishing time!