Sunday, May 22, 2011

Critters and More from Flora-Quest

In the previous post, I covered some of the fantastic flora we found on Flora-Quest. Now I will focus on some of the fauna we found on our Streamside Discovery foray.

We found a few of these caterpillars munching on meadow rue. This is a Canadian Owlet, Calyptra canadensis. It will become a cool looking moth when it reaches maturity.

At one of our first stops, we hopped out of the van and heard the calls of Mountain Chorus Frogs, Pseudacris brachyphona. Its call sounds like one running their fingernail across the fine end of a comb.

In the same vernal pool we found the Mountain Chorus Frogs, we found egg masses of the Spotted Salamanders, Ambystoma maculatum. You can see the tiny salamander larvae within the eggs. Diana Boyd from Keystone Flora native plant nursery is my lovely hand model. The egg mass has a green tinge due to a symbiotic algae, Oophilia amblystomatis. The jelly coating on the eggs prevents them from drying out, but it also can inhibit oxygen diffusion. The algae uses carbon dioxide produced by respiration from the developing salamander embryo and, in turn, produces oxygen through photosynthesis for the young salamander.

A red eft, the terrestrial juvenile stage of the Red-spotted Newt, Notophthalmus viridescens. This critter was boldly walking across a log, unafraid of anyone, and for good reason. If you decided to eat a red eft, you would be going to the hospital. They are extremely toxic. The poison from one red eft can kill approximately 2,500 mice.

Chris Staron holds an Eastern Milk Snake, Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum, he discovered under a rock. The name comes from the old myth that the snakes were found in barns and would steal milk from the cows. The real reason they were found in the barns were to eat the rodents. Duh. :)

Josh Dyer, from Crawford County Park District found this cute Ring-necked Snake, Diadophis punctatus. Note the diagnostic ring around its neck and its yellow belly.

Josh is holding a Long-tailed Salamander, Eurycea longicauda longicauda, that John Howard found for the group. This one has a tail that is shorter than normal, indicating it is probably in the process of regrowing the tail. Salamanders can drop their tail when a predator grabs it, leaving the predator happily holding the tail while the salamander gets away. The salamander can regenerate, or regrow, the tail. 

This is a larval Kentucky Spring Salamander, Gyrinophilus porphyriticus duryi. It still had its gills. Josh is my hand model, again.

John Howard, naturalist extraordinaire, holds a life snake for me, one I had never seen before, this cute little Worm Snake, Carphophis amoenus. It looked just like a giant nightcrawler. 

What a great foray in a beautiful part of Ohio. If you haven't been to Flora-Quest, I suggest you check it out sometime. It occurs each year, the first weekend in May.


  1. We had some good critter'n and bug'n on our quest. Still have a couple of insects that I have yet to identify.

  2. We did indeed, Scott! Look forward to the next one!

  3. Wow -- I just discovered this blog, and as a fellow Midwesterner who is always up for some learning, I'm excited to read/look more! (The egg-mass photo is amazing!)

  4. I genreally keep on reading and searching these types of the blogs such that they are there are many insects and other species which suffer from this problem. And I think in next blog you would provide more information.