We would like to introduce you to a man who is really doing something special to make a difference. His name is Rolf Helbig of Pennsylvania and we are honoring him with our virtual Toadily Toads Earthian Award to thank him for what he is doing to help toads.
I first learned about Rolf in a newspaper article from Pennyslvania. I was so interested in his new toad houses that I looked him up online and found him. I asked him for more info and for photos of his stuff. He gave me an interview, which is posted below, and a nice selection of photos.
Rolf uses recycled materials, like wood and metal and he makes some of the best animal dwellings I've seen. His toad houses are more likely to attract and protect a toad in your yard than most commercially sold houses. We give Rolf TWO FLIPPERS UP!!!
Toadily Toads: How did you first get involved with toads?
Rolf: I grew up in the Poconos. When I was a boy, my brother and I would watch toads catch bugs under a flood light. My interest really expanded when my wife Annick and I decided to do NAAMP (North American Amphibian Monitoring Program). We bought an Eliot Lang CD of frog and toad calls, and we haven't stopped listening. The trill of the American toad is a thrill every spring. Our son has even learned to sing like a toad.
Q: What are the benefits of toads in the garden?
A: Insect control! They are CUTE - a welcome addition.
Q: What inspired you to create this new toad house and how does it compare to the average toad house?
A: My family and I live on a Pennsylvania ridge with lots of rocks. Hoping to create toad homes, I have been placing rocks with natural cavities in the garden and along the trails that lead into thewoods. Often I would find toads under rocks as I moved them or living under the rocks in the garden. This spring I decided to create my own toad teepees out of hardware cloth and mortar to add to my EarthBirdline of critter houses - educating people is a priority.
Q: what are some of the tricks you've learned for attracting toads to your garden?
A: 1. Use absolutely no chemicals!! 2. Plant a nice array ofperennials - native plants are best. 3. Leave the porch light on at night using an energy smart light bulb. 4. Construct a rock pile or wall.
Look close at the photo above. There's a little bufo americanus male sitting in there!
Toads will love the natural look of this house. It blends quietly into your garden.
What a gorgeous male! He loves the toad house and the pest insects in the garden!
A beautiful female bufo americanus comes out of a Toad Abode!
Q: How can somebody go about ordering one of your toad houses? How much does it cost?
A: Contact Rolf Helbig at email@example.com or call 570.966.3463. The toad teepees are $20. Shipping will be $10.
Q: What other nature friendly products do you have available?
A: I make bee blocks, and I make boxes that will house screech owls, kestrel, wood duck, cavity nesting birds, and bats.
More Product Info:
The EarthBird Bird Box is a no-gimmick, practical bird box. Built to all requirements of Cornell University; proper hole sizes, air vents, clean-out door, pre-drilled, these metal roofed boxes will last a LONG time. Assorted metal roof colors, as to what metal is in stock. $20.
Nest in box
Close up view of chickadee eggs.
Chickadees made a wonderful nest here in Earthbirds's Bird Box.
The Mini Wedge Bat Box offers two advantages: 1) The Mini will hold only 4 or six bats at a time, so it's a great "starter" Bat Box. 2) The Wedge shape allows the bats more room to move around at the top of the box, a good thing, especially if the female(s) has her pup(s). I sell the EarthBird Bat Box for $20.
Hand crafted bat box from recycled materials.
A cute bat hides in the box!
The Bee Blocks attract the native Solitary bees, such as the Leaf-cutter bees and the Orchard Mason bees and other bee species. The solitary bees are more efficient pollinators than the honey bees! Beneficial wasps like the Potter wasp which preys on caterpillars, will also use the Blocks. All the Bee species that use the Blocks are non-aggressive and will not sting unless thoroughly disturbed. The Blocks can be re-used year after year. When a chamber hole is open, the bees have left and re-drilling the hole will clean it. $15
Given the frightening decline of bees in recent years, doing something to help them is highly recommended! Hang or place the Bee Block "anywhere" except in direct sun. The Ideal spot is out of the elements, like under an eve on a house or building.
The Screech Owl Box was a Big hit in Lewisburg last winter! Eight people had Screech Owls in their boxes! The boxes are used by the owls only from October through May. The owls may also nest in the box! Screech Owls love the Sun so place your box 8 feet or higher on a pole, tree or building with the hole facing South. The Screech Owl is a much better mouser than a cat! That's it. Screech Owl box is $30. We will hopefully have a picture soon.
Remember: All boxes are made from recycled wood and metal and you can contact Rolf here: Rolf Helbig at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 570.966.3463