Some quick closeups

Last night I did another check at the nearby pond, not just seeing how active the treefrogs were, but also looking for other, aquatic subjects. They weren’t hard to find, but my first surprised me a little.

newly-hatched painted turtle Chrysemys picta at water's surface
This is a juvenile painted turtle (Chrysemys picta,) and unless I miss my guess, it’s this year’s brood, judging from the lack of ridges on the scutes (shell ‘scales.’) I found it in the same little drainage puddle as the snakes from the previous post and video, quite possibly swept there during the overflow flooding that followed the torrential rains we’ve received the past few days. The puddle didn’t have enough vegetation to make it happy, which it could correct for itself easily, but recently, the HOA around the nearby pond elected to poison all the weeds along the edges, and I’ve already found a few dead turtles on the banks – turtles eat pond vegetation, so there’s little doubt as to what killed them, and I don’t feel it’s prudent to reintroduce my little model here into that. Right at the moment, it resides in my backyard pond liner until I determine where to take it. Relocating turtles also isn’t a good idea, since they have immunities and diets based on where they’re presently living, but right now, it’s kind of that or take the chance on it being directly poisoned.

Also, quite curiously, this is the only painted turtle that I’ve seen anywhere near that pond, in six years – I’ve only found sliders, snappers, and musk turtles. So did it get swept in from some location upstream, one of the feeders into the pond, and then swept back out again? I couldn’t say, and so far, neither has it.

I’d seen some activity earlier from my next subject, so it was a target on last night’s exploration, which was more successful than I’d first imagined.

giant water bug Belostoma flumineum with backswimmer genus Notonecta prey
The guy on top is a giant water bug (Belostoma flumineum,) my target, and its capture is a backswimmer (genus Notonecta, possibly Notonecta kirbyi.) I had scooped up the giant water bug into a jar, and collected a few other odds and ends like tiny tadpoles and some of the backswimmers. Before I’d even left the edge of the puddle, the water bug had snagged a backswimmer for a snack, and retained it despite the sloshing around until I attempted to transfer it into the macro aquarium (where both of these photos were taken.) Sorry that I missed that shot, I introduced another backswimmer, and within minutes the water bug had begun another meal. Pig.

But I’m not complaining. Having something in captivity, especially short term, demonstrate feeding behavior is rare and often hard to accomplish, so being as cooperative as this helps a lot. Not from the backswimmers’ point of view, I’m sure, but they can write their own posts. The biggest difficulty that I had was from the turtle, which was sharing the macro aquarium for a little while, because it tended to blunder into the feeding water bug just as I was pinning down focus.

The turtle, by the way, was roughly 50mm in carapace length, while the water bug was a measured 25mm in body length, 5mm across the width of the eyes; I just now noticed that the dark coloration to the upper eyes wasn’t just a lack of reflection, but appears to be some kind of material, don’t ask me what. I feel obligated to point out that both of these arthropods don’t appear to have any of this coloration when seen ‘normally,’ merely looking dark brown under casual observation – it takes the flash and the right angles to show these hues. Still debating about whether I’m going to make any attempt to do aquarium video or not – there are a lot of challenges to surmount. Sure as hell, it’s gonna wait until my patience and mellow levels are near peak ;-)