In my seven years (we moved into our home in October of 2007 so I don’t count the first winter) gardening here in the Violet Fern garden, I have never spied even one toad or frog! Me, little Miss-let’s-build-a-wildlife-habitat in a village, hasn’t found but one toad or frog in her garden … until TODAY! I am giddy – doesn’t take much. I was walking back from the Potager with some fresh basil for breakfast pizza (hey, it’s a holiday, I’m celebrating my freedom to choose), when something hopped. I couldn’t believe my eyes. There right beside me was the most beautiful frog I have ever seen because it is the first frog I’ve ever seen in my garden!
Wouldn’t you agree she is beautiful?
I say she because she is pretty large and her ears look to be about the same size as her eyes and I believe she is a Northern Leopard Frog. Males are usually smaller with ears larger than their eyes. According to Wikipedia and various other sources, Northern Leopard Frogs abandon their ponds in summer for grassy areas and are thus also known as Meadow frogs. They can be found up to a mile away from a water source! Well, we are only a block away from the St. Lawrence River, and she is sitting in the grassy (weedy) lawn path between the Bird & Butterfly and Woodland Edge gardens.
Northern Leopard Frogs have been declining since 1970 most likely due to habitat loss/fragmentation, environmental contaminants/pollution, introduced fish … Seeing a trend here? They are eaten by raccoons, other frogs, snakes, Blue Herons (I’m waiting for the day one stalks the Violet Fern Garden as they are common along the River), and human lawn mowers. The frog you dissected in high school was most likely a Northern Leopard Frog. I am ashamed to say (shhh I mean whisper – I don’t want her to hear), I probably ate Northern Leopard Frog legs when I was a little girl at the Elk’s Club in Wausau, WI.
They eat snails! (read below) and almost any kind of insect – crickets, spiders, and ants – yippee!
I think she’s heard me discussing building a pond for the past two years. Now I just HAVE to get that pond in this year!
Don’t you just love how the garden gives back and surprises? I remember spotting my first snail and being excited because I felt I was building something right – that I was in fact, creating a little ecosystem habitat. Now, of course, I have snails everywhere. Now, I also have frogs!
Sources: Wikipedia, National Geographic, EPA