Monday | January 16, 2017
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Toads and frogs can be a nuisance in the yard

Aloha! We live in Hawaiian Paradise Park and have been getting lots of toads around our yard. They’re leaving many droppings everywhere. Is there a way to get rid of them, or at least repel them from our yard? Thanks for your advice.

Having found no control manual for toads and frogs, the common sense approach is to change the habitat to make it unfriendly for them. This will include eliminating water sources for their reproduction and moist areas for them to hide — almost an impossibility in areas of heavy rain! But eliminating piles of yard rubbish and trimming back thick ground cover will help.

Various types of barrier fences can be erected either around the property or just around certain desired areas.

Since toads and frogs eat insects, controlling the bugs would also be a way of discouraging their presence. Again, this is not practical for backyards in Hawaii. But eliminating any outdoor lighting, which attracts many insects, should help.

Beyond that, I am open for readers’ suggestions on how they have dealt with toads.

In case you’re interested and for clarity, all toads are members of the family Bufonidae, which in turn falls under the order of Anura, commonly called frogs.

So, all toads are frogs, but not all frogs are toads.

Toads tend to have a thicker skin which allows them to live away from water longer than most frogs. A toad’s skin is often covered with bumps and glands.

The similarities are that frogs and toads both reproduce and develop in water, both “sing,” and are both carnivorous.

Of note, when the bufo toad is attacked, its defense is to exude a milky fluid known as bufotoxin. This poison protects it from predators, but not all. Most snakes and birds seem to be unaffected. Humans need to be careful since the toxin may cause skin irritation and possibly worse, but there are no reports of human fatalities. Unfortunately, the toxin can be fatal to small animals such as cats and dogs. Thus, ridding the yard of bufo toads is a protection for your pet.

Can you tell me what is causing the leaves of my lychee tree to turn brown? The tree looks healthy and is producing fruit, but I am worried it may have some blight.

In general, leaves turning brown at the tips or leaf margin is an indication of salt burn, possibly an overdose of fertilizer, or an accumulation of salts in the soil.

The whole leaf turning brown could indicate other types of abiotic disorders, i.e., not caused by an organism like a fungus or bacteria.

In your case, however, brown blotches on leaves of lychees are usually associated with a tiny mite, the Erinose mite, which is about 1/200 inches long.

Infected leaves have been described as curled, distorted and galled with a velvety brown to brownish-red appearance on the underside. These mites attack the new leaves at the onset of growth flushes.

Stunting may occur when mites infest young trees. At this stage, infested leaves can be removed and discarded. Removing infested leaves during or shortly after the growth flush will help reduce the mite population. As the tree becomes larger, leaf removal becomes impractical.

Although it is difficult to completely rid the tree of this mite, rarely will they kill the tree. If spraying is desired, a sulfur solution can be applied. The most effective time is when a new flush of leaves emerge, thus protecting it against a new infestation. In all likelihood, the mite will not be present on the older leaves which exhibit the dark reddish brown coloration. Even in the presence of mites, fruit bearing trees will yield a good crop.

For more information on a variety of fruit and nut trees, visit

Hilo resident Nick Sakovich is a professor emeritus of the University of California. He has worked in the field of agriculture for 30 years. Email your questions to Sakovich at


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