23 September 2022

Ambush


There is a patch of ground next to the driveway that used to be planted with a variety of ornamental flowers and foliage plants.  About 5-10 years ago some goldenrod appeared, and was happy with the sun exposure and soil, so it proliferated.  As did the milkweed (which has happily colonized all of our gardening areas).  

Last week as I walked back from the mailbox, my eye noticed something unusual on one of the milkweed leaves (highlighted with the red circle).


It was a Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor), which I've noticed previously on other milkweed leaves.  When I went over to take his/her photo, I noticed a second and a third one...


The reason we have allowed the goldenrod to proliferate is that it serves as an absolute magnet for pollinators - bees especially, but also flies, beetles, and some butterflies.  Nectar and pollen sources are particularly valuable at our latitude in late summer/early fall when other flowering plants are subsiding [the goldenrod is already going to seed, but the New England Asters have taken over as nectar and pollen sources].

I postulated that it wasn't a coincidence that these three frogs were on the milkweed plants in the goldenrod patch, so I did a quick survey around the front yard.  It didn't take more than five minutes, because these little guys are not hard to spot when you look for them.  Three frogs on three milkweeds in the goldenrod patch, none on the 75+ other milkweeds scattered around the other flowerbeds.  

7 comments:

  1. Your warm summer nights must be filled with the choruses of those frogs!

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  2. Milkweed is the monarch butterflies main food.

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    1. A rose by any other name ... Here in New Zealand the Monarch dines mainly on the Swan Plant. When we lived in Australia, some million moons ago now, we called them Travellers, for obvious reasons. And as a mid forties man having spent hard earned cash on quickly buying more Swan Plants from the garden centre, the caterpillars earned the title 'Caterpigs' as they swiftly denuded every plant we bought.
      The front deck and patio was as Christmas, with glittering cocoons festooned all about, as metamorphosis took place.

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    2. https://monarchbutterflygarden.net/milkweed-plant-seed-resources/gomphocarpus-physocarpus/

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  3. I saw a very interesting graph from a conservation area near me. Soon after putting in some ponds, the local population of native frogs soared but about four years later, it plummeted, finally settling out. At first, I thought it was some kind of weedkiller or pesticide but it turns out herons had moved in. All signs of success.

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    Replies
    1. Next will come crows, ravens, and black snakes to eat the heron eggs, and racoons and turkey vultures to eat the young herons.

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