Horny toads in Australia are being seduced to their death

‘We know that females like low voices because that indicates a larger male’

Soft lights, dead toads

Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

Australian researchers have concocted a new tactic in their ongoing battle against the hordes of cane toads infesting the countryside: dim the lights and lure them to their deaths with the promise of sex.

For years, toad trappers have used lights to attract insects that would in turn draw hungry toads into traps. James Cook University’s Lin Schwarzkopf has modified that method to include dimmer UV lights that will avoid the problem of scaring some of them away. She’s also added speakers that emit the deep drone of the male toad to attract females. “We know that females like low voices because that indicates a larger male,” Schwarzkopf told Britain’s Independent.

Schwartzkopf says this has led to a tenfold increase in the number of toads caught. She wants the traps to be mass-produced for the effort against the toad infestations that have plagued the country since the 1930s, when the species was introduced to kill beetles that were devouring sugar cane crops. Once the toads are caught, they’re either sprayed with a lethal chemical or placed in a freezer to die slowly from the cold. And all they wanted was some action.

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