This year was a hard year with no rains coming for 8 weeks during the months of April and May. Virtually the entire peach crop of Georgia was lost due to drought drop, and the rabbits in my yard ate zinnias and other plants they normally left alone.
This meant that most tree frogs in my neighborhood would not have a place to lay eggs and that my breeding tanks would be critical for that population.
This put a tremendous amount of pressure on me because last year when I set the tanks up, they were monopolized by Green Frogs (Lithobates clamitans), which eat the small Cope’s Gray Tree Frog (Hyla chrysoscelis) and overloaded the tanks with thousands of tadpoles.
When you sew native pollinator seeds, stop mowing, and allow natural meadow to emerge an replace a lawn, you will always have some neighbors who will complain.
Usually they escalate their complaints by claiming that rats are mosquitos will be drawn to the dense vegetation.
The irony is that these same neighbors usually have birdfeeders, and a simple game camera or spotlight can quickly confirm that these feeders are what draws rats and other rodents at night.
I’ve noticed that since my yard cum meadow now has many songbirds and chipmunks and shrews and rabbits, there is usually a hawk or owl watching it hungrily.
Needless to say, I see many types of wildlife at night, but never rats. When I see rats, I see them making bee lines from the storm drains to the birdfeeders in the golf course lawns.
Also, since I installed my mosquito fish ponds, I can go out in my back yard without a shirt for hours. When it was a standard lawn of Saint Augustine grass, it was swarming with mosquitos, mostly invasive Asian tiger mosquitos.
Native ecologies work.
Pictured above are joe pye weed and cup plant in the foreground and Mexican sunflower in the background.
The chert gravel deposits of the lower Mississippi River valley were formed by glacial and alluvial processes, which tumbled and smoothed stones from all over the drainage of that great basin, from Montana to Minnesota to Pennsylvania and every place in between.
The fossils found in the chert gravels of the the lower Mississippy valley make great finds because they are chert that has been tumbled over the eons.
Chert is a microcrystalline silica mineral that forms when organic material (or their anhydride castings) are replaced by the action of groundwater over the ages. Chert is fairly hard and polishes nicely. The semiprecious gemstones such as agates and jaspers are examples of chert.
A good fossil in crumbly sandstone or limestone is nice and all but not nearly as nice a good fossil made of a nice hard gemstone that was polished by glaciers over eons.
The front and back yards are tangles of heirloom vegetables and wildflowers of many different types, and that draws a lot of butterflies, especially the large yellow tiger swallowtails.
Mexican sunflowers (Tithonia rotundifolia) and various varieties of sunflowers dominate about half the area with full sunlight, with cosmos, coneflowers, and zinnias making up most of the rest, at least as far as annuals.
Note that all of those flowers are warm yellow, orange. and red colors, and so it’s a little dazzling on blue-sky days, especially with all the large butterflies flying around.
This is a young adult Green Frog. It is much smaller than the old blue-faced males in the ponds, but it is still an adult and reproductively active, capable of laying a clutch of several hundred eggs in a night: