He’s a grower

I know, I’m attributing gender to an amphibian, long before adulthood even, but it made the title work better.

I’ve got more arthropods to feature, but we’re taking a short break to show off another find. It should have been a few days ago, because it would have been more distinct then, but no, I was being lazy…

tadpole possibly green frog Lithobates clamitans showing newly-formed hing legs
The backyard pond went very dormant for a while, nearly all evidence of life vanishing from it, and I wondered what the cause was; there was nothing specific that I could bring to mind, but it might have been contamination from the neighborhood pond nearby, since it seemed to occur right after I deposited a juvenile painted turtle and the water from its holding tank therein (the homeowners, or at least one of them, have taken it upon themselves to treat the pond for weeds, without any indication that they know what they’re doing, but with a noticeable appearance of a lot of dead turtles, so I’m fairly comfortable saying their dosages are incorrect.)

But recently, I noticed that we now had a batch of largish tadpoles within the pond – large enough that I doubt they’re either of the treefrog species, but suspect the green frogs (Lithobates clamitans) instead; there were at least three that resided in that pond for the past few years, and though I have seen no evidence of them recently, now we have tadpoles, so…

And as shown here, they’re starting to develop their hind legs, ‘starting’ being the key word. Not something to be proud of, yet.

tadpole possibly green frog Lithobates clamitans with newly-formed legs
These were taken in my macro aquarium, with some degree of difficulty. Capturing a few was easy-peasy, but for unknown reasons they all eschewed the nice, clear, unmarked (largely) glass at the front of the tank to go snuggle up the the cloudy, scratched, curved plastic of the rear, so getting them to pause up close to the glass for maximum clarity was actually taxing. I thought it might be my presence, or the lighting, or the green photo I was using as a backdrop, but when I turned the tank around, they stayed with the plastic side, so it seemed to be a dislike of the glass. Got me.

newly-formed hind limb of tadpole, possibly green frog Lithobates clamitans
Like I said, a few days previously when I first examined them, the legs were still more pathetic, if you can imagine that, but even now they flap along in the wake of the swimming motions like tinsel dangling from a cat’s ass. Muppets have more muscular-looking appendages. It’ll still be a few days yet before the front limbs appear, rather suddenly if past experience is any indication, and not too long after that, they’ll venture forth onto dry land, and I’ll try to follow up then.

But while I was doing macro work with the tank, I had to do a closeup of the mouth.

mouth detail of tadpole, possibly green frog Lithobates clamitans
I’m not bothering to look up details of tadpole anatomy (see above re: laziness,) but I do know that tadpoles don’t have gills and gulp their air with frequent visits to the water’s surface, so perhaps we’re looking at some degree of gill-equivalence here. Or maybe they’re just scrapers that help them scour food from plant surfaces and rocks. I don’t know; jump in if you like, I’m just doing the visuals.

With the water sample came along way too many mosquito nymphs, so I did a couple of detail shots of those, too.

two stages of mosquito nymph
There are actually two different stages of the same species’ development shown here – I believe, anyway. The upper one is in profile and is very close to emerging from the water as a feeding, annoying adult, showing the developed compound eyes, the pale developing legs and wings curved around, and the breathing ‘snorkels’ at upper left. While the bottom one is much younger, with little recognizable because this stage is dedicated to entirely different habits. I went in close for one of these, too.

mosquito nymph detail
There! Everything becomes more adorable as a baby, doesn’t it?

Maybe at some point I’ll do some video (probably about the same time I do some real research,) but for now I can tell you that those little gold things bottom center were in constant agitation, and are likely filter-feeders. Seen head on, or kinda from the top down, the eyes are the dark spots to either side, likely quite rudimentary because they’re only used to avoid danger by thrashing away without any real swimming skill.

Yes, we should not be breeding any mosquito larva in the pond, and after this, I did a bunch of net skimming to pull out as many as possible, followed by a treatment with the biological mosquito bombs, which are not supposed to harm the tadpoles, or indeed anything else, and to the best of my observations they fulfill this claim. I’d love to get more natural mosquito predators in the pond (like dragonfly nymphs,) but so far they have not been convinced to breed there often enough. I still may do some more detail shots of their emergence as adults, as well as egg-laying and hatching, but keeping the mosquitoes down in the yard takes a higher precedence, really.

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