The sounds and sights of nature …
We are fortunate to own a lovely cabin in The Berkshires on Yokum Pond in Becket, Massachusetts. It is a great getaway, a retreat we welcome at any time of year. The seasons bring different experiences and this last weekend, we were visited by two of them: peeper frogs and mayflies.
Spring peepers, pseudacris crucifer, are the more famous of all the chirping frogs. They belong to a group known as chorus frogs, and a chorus it is. These delightful creatures chant with a distinctive peeping refrain that can sound a lot like tingling bells in the wind when there are many. And this weekend there was an abundance. The nights were warmer, sort of, and with windows open, we fell asleep to the music.
It’s mating season, the time when the males call out to the females who are drawn to their singing suitors. After the frogs mate, the females lay their eggs underwater … under our clean, fresh water, our pond. How interesting, maybe even exciting, to think about the thousands of eggs dropping to the bottom of Yokum Pond. When the eggs hatch in approximately 12 days, the singing stops.
We love the sonorous sounds of the peepers; friendly visitors who lull us each evening. If we wake, they are there, serenading us under the moon and the constellations. Mixed with the peeps are other sounds … trills, hoots, quacks and an occasional honk. If we listen carefully, we might hear a growl. It is our private symphony.
Not so much fun are the mayflies, those aquatic insects sometimes called shad or lake flies. Well … we’re on a lake and it’s May so the mayflies appear in swarms and mate in flight (so they say). After mating, each female lays up to eight thousand eggs in the clean, fresh water. At that point, the adults die and fall back into the water, becoming food for fish, frogs, and other aquatic life. Adult mayflies live a very short time, so if you wondered, that’s where they go in June, dead-in-the-water.
Though they neither attack, sting nor bite, they are annoying, nonetheless. They seem to like the moisture in sweat, eyes and ears and there they alight. The sheer numbers of these insects during their spring mating season are a pain. There’s more.
Mayflies are attracted to light and become even more of a nuisance when they gather at night in large numbers near our doorway. It’s OK. It’s quite a phenomenon. It’s all about nature. We love the gleeps of the peeps and their pond friends. We tolerate the mayflies.
This morning I looked at the rippling pond. There was a beaver dam in the distance, A great blue heron was posing by the edge, waiting to pierce a fish. Barn swallows were diving, flitting, catching bugs. The peepers were resting. The mayflies were spinning and twisting in the sun.
Our freshwater pond is a peaceful and pleasing delight.
** Published in yesterdays’s GoLocalProv