While spring is the time when people return to pools in droves, not all aquatic incursions are welcome. In fact, some can be downright hazardous. Such is the case with cane toads, an invasive species of toad that is both poisonous and capable of reproducing in huge numbers under favorable conditions...like swimming pools.

Case in point, the great cane-toad invasion of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., began, according to one resident, with a few toads in her pool on March 21. “We weren’t sure what they were, so we removed them,” she told The Palm Beach Post. “Friday morning, it was like a mass exodus of toads. Baby toads.”

The tiny amphibians reportedly swarmed the swimming pool, clambered up walls and carpeted a hallway in the house. The burgeoning toads were so numerous that the overwhelmed residents called for help. Apparently, stemming the tide of cane toads has become something of a cottage industry in southern Florida.

Cane toads were deliberately introduced from South and Central America in the 1930s as a means to control beetles damaging the sugarcane crop, which is how they got the name “cane toads.” It is believed that escaped pets likely helped establish the current population.

In the case of the Palm Beach Gardens invasion, the cause was an undisturbed lake in the neighborhood where there was nothing to bother the toad eggs and tadpoles. As a result, nearly all of them had metamorphosed into toads which then hopped en masse into yards and pools.

Eric Herman is Senior Editor of AQUA Magazine.