May Phenology: 2013 Re-emergence of Frogs, Bees and Flowers

Written by Phenology Team
    Tuesday, 14 May 2013
May Phenology: 2013 Re-emergence of Frogs, Bees and Flowers

Every new day in May brings out plants and critters that re-emerge after their winter absence. Warmer temperatures and longer days allow plants to re-emerge from soil and leaves and flowers to burst forth from trees. These provide food for insects, which are food for frogs, birds and mammals and so on.  Here are some things to look for outside in May.

Riverside Park - Biggest Bouquet Ever!

by Matt Flower

This month I invite you to notice the incredible displays our trees give us! Many are literally bursting with thousands of flowers. Here are several that are flowering now.

Maple: The inconspicuous floral firework display of the Box Elder and other maples astound the careful observer.

European Alder: A walk along the Elfin Woods and River Trails lead you to notice strange, red flower clusters on the ground, often mistaken for caterpillars.

Weeping Willow: Look closely along the sweeping vines to discover slim, cylindrical flower clusters called Catkins. Like the Alders, this flower requires close inspection to understand its structure.

Menomonee Valley - Bees are Awesome!

by Lainet Garcia-Rivera

New-England-Aster-9-smWe’re not the only ones who get excited at the emergence of spring flowers. Pollinating bugs, like bees, look for flowers to drink nectar and collect pollen. Why are bees important? They…

  1. allow fructification in plants.
  2. help plants reproduce by transporting pollen.
  3. are the most abundant pollinators in the world.

Next time you’re at the Menomonee Valley, visit the bee hive on the green roof. “Our” bees help pollinate native plants that our land stewardship team and volunteers work tirelessly to maintain. Be part of the process by coming to our Community Planting day on May 18th.

Washington Park - Late-season Frogs

by Tim Vargo

Bullfrog-9.25.2012-5-smTake an evening stroll around the lagoon in May, and you will likely hear frogs, one of my favorite harbingers of spring. By calling, male frogs walk – or hop - a fine line between letting their presence be known to mates (a good thing) and potential predators (not so good).

Most frogs start calling in March and April, but you have to wait until mid-May to hear two of our most well-known frogs, Bullfrogs (low monotonous hum) and Green Frogs (comical gulping sound). You can help the Center monitor frogs through our Community Science program by contacting Jennifer Callaghan This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Our ancestors often explained re-emergences through mythology and the supernatural. Swallows migrating over the Mediterranean were thought to dive into the ocean to become clams for the winter. We know a little bit more today, but the beauty and mystery of spring re-emergence remain for all of us to discover.  We hope you take some time to visit our branches or other green spaces to look for all the new things popping up everywhere.

Phenology Team

Phenology Team

The Phenology Team is made up of representatives from the Center’s three branches: Matt Flower, Environmental Educator, Tim Vargo, Manager of Research and Citizen Science, and Lainet Garcia-Rivera, Community Program Coordinator. Each month they provide guidance on which phenological events to look for, and how you can follow the changes of nature’s calendar!


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