Remember my Pink Ladyslipper orchid and its protective nest of sticks? It’s now protecting more than an orchid. Checking on it one day last week, I bent over for a closer look and was startled to see something looking back at me.
I think it’s a Fowler’s Toad, but it may be an American Toad. I’m no herpetologist, although living in central Virginia I’ve learned much more about reptiles and amphibians than I ever thought I wanted to know. This account says that Fowler’s Toads hide in burrows in the sand during the day, and that sort of fits with what I’ve observed. The creature has been there every time I’ve looked for the last several days, except once. On the other hand, my toad appears to be larger than the photos accompanying that description. So I don’t know.
There’s another little brown creature in the woods lately. Can you see it?
How about now?
I wouldn’t have seen it either except for watching it flit and flutter around the edges of the woods.
But I’m hoping to attract a much larger, unmistakable butterfly – the Zebra Swallowtail. Their larval food plant is the Paw Paw tree (Asimina triloba). I planted two the first spring we were here. Unknowingly, I planted them in the midst of our huge patch of poison ivy. It was dormant at the time and no harm came of it (to me), but the Paw Paw trees suffered from drought and having herbicide applied nearby. Surprisingly they’re still alive.
So, while chasing the Little Wood Satyr (that sounds a bit odd) with the camera, I noticed this shrubby thing. Is it a Paw Paw?
There are two Paw Paw species native to Virginia – Asimina triloba and Asimina parviflora – although only A. triloba is reported in central Virginia according to the Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora. Still, this looks to me more like the photos I’ve seen of A. parviflora. Here’s a closer look at the leaves.
I really want this to be a Paw Paw, and one that Zebra Swallowtail caterpillars will find tasty. I’ve seen Zebra Swallowtails in my garden in northern Virginia, but not central Virginia. All these photos are from central Virginia, by the way.
And I found yet another good surprise this past week. There is a tiny patch (3 stems) of Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum biflorum) at the edge of the woods. That’s one of my favorite wildflowers – not so much for the flowers as for the arching stems. I hope it survives to make a nice clump some day.
I’ll leave you with one pretty picture (this post has a shortage of pretty pictures). It was a surprise to me that American Lady butterflies like chives.