Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't. Some of Florida's worst pests are creatures that seem to offer incredible promise: miracle plants that produce spectacular blooms, beneficial insects, a toad that would control insect pests and save us millions of dollars. Ah yes, that toad. In the 1930s, the giant toad from Latin America was introduced to Hawaii and Australia to control beetles that fed on sugar cane crops. They ate some of the beetles and Florida sugar cane growers wanted their chance with this wonder creature. It was quickly introduced throughout the tropics wherever sugar cane was being grown and gained a name: 'cane toad.’ The cane toad is an opportunist, feeding on anything that moves and some things that don't. In urban areas it readily comes to pet feeding bowls to eat dried cat and dog food. It has few enemies because it produces potent poisons in its skin. During dry weather, the cane toad is inconspicuous, ensconced in wetlands or burrowing into damp soil to wait for the rains. With the rains it quickly begins feeding, breeding and conquering new habitats.'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.