Friday, June 3, 2011

Water Day-Baby Cricket Frog

Today was water day for our preschool Wiggle Worms camp. We tromped out to the pond and used dip nets to catch all kinds of critters.

This critter is a dragonfly nymph, the aquatic stage of the dragonfly. Earlier in the day, Linsi read the story Dazzling Dragonflies by Linda Glaser to the campers. This is an excellent book for young children on the dragonfly life cycle. Since they were already prepared by the book, they were really excited to catch these somewhat creepy-looking insects. Many were excitedly screaming " I caught a baby dragonfly!"

This lizard-like creature is a damselfly nymph. Damselflies are in the same order as dragonflies. The abdomens of adult damselflies are more slender than most dragonflies and they hold their wings folded over their backs while dragonflies hold them out to the sides of their body.

This critter is a young crayfish, or crawdad, if you will. Many of the kids thought they were lobsters, which they do resemble. Even though it was too tiny to do any harm, it was a feisty little thing!

We even found part of a fascinating plant. This is Common Bladderwort, a carnivorous plant. The bladders, the dark, round objects in the photo, trap tiny pond creatures and produce enzymes to digest the prey.

Blanchard's Cricket Frog, Acris crepitans blanchardi, a sub-species of the Northern Cricket Frog, posed nicely for a photo. I think its face kinda looks like Kermit, if Kermit was brown. These frogs are masters of camouflage, as you can see on another post. Also, Nothern Cricket Frogs are a Species of Special Concern for Indiana, which means their numbers are declining, so they are on a watch list. I am very pleased they like our pond!

The big excitement for the day was catching these little guys! A young cricket frog, smaller than my thumbnail! Wow!

And then we caught this one. A cricket frog that still had its tail! It was still going through metamorphosis and was even smaller than the last one! It was such a great day out at the pond, exploring and discovering many, many cool things!StumbleUpon


Kevin said...

Your young cricket frogs are actually toad metamorphs (note the large dorsal spots with warts already forming) although the adult cricket frog is correctly identified.

Janet Creamer said...

Hi Kevin,

I would have thought that, as well, but they climbed up the side of the container, indicating they have the sticky pads on their feet that our cricket frogs do. The young toads we have found in the past do not do that.

Janet Creamer said...

Also, young toadlets have parotid glands that cricket frogs do not.

Kevin said...

The parotid and other glands take time to develop and aren't apparent until after some growth. The climbing may have been due to moisture since small terrestrial frogs can stick to vertical surfaces if they are damp-the ventral skink allows them to cling while they have a higher surface area to weight ratio.

Have a look at this shot of an American Toad metamorph for comparison to yours:

While I don't have personal experience with cricket frogs, I've seen numerous toadlets fresh out of the water and I feel confident that your picture of the young one is a toad. However, if there are cricket frogs at this site (as your picture of the adult shows), there's no reason to think they aren't reproducing there as well.