Toad Abode and Other Surprises

May 25th, 2010

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.

Toad and Orchid

This is what I saw.

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?

Leaf Litter

Look closely

How about now?

Litte Wood Satyr

Little Wood Satyr

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?

Unknown Shrub

Paw Paw (Asimina sp.)?

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.

Unknown Shrub

Paw Paw?

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.

American Lady and Chive Flower

American Ladies like Chives

6 Responses to “Toad Abode and Other Surprises”

  1. Wendy says:

    That’s a really pretty picture! I really don’t see nearly enough butterflies. I’ve heard early morning is more ideal – but I’m usually at work by then. Good eye – catching that wood satyr (quite a name).

    • entangled says:

      This weekend should be good for butterflies – sunny and hot.

      I became a butterfly gardener when I noticed something like 5 species at one time on Caryopteris (I think it was Caryopteris – it was a long time ago). Anyhow, I thought “If there are 5 species here without any effort on my part, how many could there be if I tried to attract them?” So I keep adding nectar and host plants as and when I can fit them in.

  2. Sandy says:

    I like that little guy, and it looks like he is enjoying his home. My chives are blooming now, all ready for butterflies.

    • entangled says:

      I’ll be watching your blog for butterfly photos. :-) The chives are just about finished blooming here, but the Verbena bonariensis has started.

  3. Sandy says:

    Me again, just wanted to thank you for your help identifying the tree/bush, I posted. It looks like it is a huckleberry.

    http://www.nps.gov/plants/pubs/chesapeake/plant/1277.htm

    • entangled says:

      You’re welcome! I’m not sure, but I may have some of those too. The only one of the blueberry family that I can identify with any confidence is the deerberry and that’s only because the flowers have a bell shape instead of a vase shape.

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