Thursday, September 08, 2005

Toads at the disco

There's an item on the newswires that cane toads, an introduced species that's basically overrunning northern Australia, can be lured to traps using ultraviolet strobes. It's not yet clear if the toads are responding to the light itself or to the swarms of insects that are also attracted.

The reason for the big effort is that the toads are very poisonous and eat ravenously. In a public initiative to slow their spread, a story this spring introduced "whacking day" in which people were encouraged to go after the pests with golf clubs and cricket bats. A key comment from the text: "Two issues with golf clubs, one is they're fairly light, they don't have a lot of mass so whilst they hit cane toads and make a very healthy sounding smack when they do, they don't really have enough mass to crush the cane toad's skull," he told ABC radio.

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