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American Toad
1 year ago

Bufo americanus





Copyright, Tom Gula


     Please stay tuned for the next installment.....

1 year ago

The American Toad is probably the amphibian most often seen by people in our area. It enters lawns and gardens, and it frequently crosses roads.



American Toads are large, growing up to 4 1/2 inches long. Full-grown adults are usually chubby.

1 year ago

These toads varies in color, but are usually brown, brick-red, or olive-colored. They have patterns of lighter colors on their bodies, as well as brown spots. All of them have warts, and some have a light stripe down their backs.



Both male and female toads have a spotted belly, but the male has a darker throat.

1 year ago



Mark Moran

1 year ago

American Toads are most often seen and heard in the Spring when they are breeding. They are also seen frequently in the Fall when they look for new places to live and hibernate.





In the Spring, male toads find pools of water and begin calling females. To do this, the male will stretch out his dewlap (the pouch at his throat) to create his unique song. The American Toad call is a long, pleasant trill, that many people mistake for crickets. Remember, crickets sing in the Fall, toads in the Spring!

1 year ago



J. Harding

1 year ago



Copyright, Brad Moon, California Academy of Sciences

1 year ago

Females, who are attracted to the calls of males, reach the water and mating begins.



Males will "hug" the larger females in a position called amplexus. The female will lay thousands of eggs in long strings in the water. The eggs will be attached to plants.

1 year ago

Tadpoles will hatch from the eggs in about a week. The black tadpoles will steadily grow by eating plant material for over a month.





Then they will emerge from the water as young toads.

1 year ago

Copyri



Copyright, Scott Egan, Rhode Island Vernal Pools

1 year ago

Adult American Toads are found just about anywhere there is moisture. They now have lungs to breathe out of water, but like all amphibians, they need to keep their skin moist.




American Toads can be found in forests, meadows, and gardens. They are mostly active at night.

1 year ago

These toads are predators and they eat a lot. Insects, spiders, earthworms, snails, and slugs make up most of their diet, but they will eat just about anything that fits in their mouths.




American Toads will lash out with their sticky tongues to grab prey. If the prey is large, they will use their arms to stuff it into their mouths.

1 year ago

American Toads hide under rocks, logs, and leaf litter during the day. When the weather gets cold, toads will burrow up to three feet under ground to hibernate.





Predators of American Toads include snakes, owls, skunks and raccoons.

1 year ago

American Toads have special glands, called paratoid glands, which produce a foul-smelling, toxic chemical. This will keep some predators from trying to eat it.







Copyright, David Spier


1 year ago



Mark Moran

1 year ago

Other defenses used by American Toads, include playing dead and puffing up their bodies to look bigger than they actually are.



To get around the paratoid glands, raccoons will flip over an American Toad and eat from the underside.

1 year ago

American Toads can live up to thirty years.






David Malak www.wnywildlife.com


1 year ago

PREY/FOOD




Earthworm



Lumbricus genus


(assorted species, including: Lumbricus terrestris and Lumbricus rubellus)


1 year ago

The two most common species of earthworms in Northern Virginia are the Common Earthworm, or "nightcrawler" (Lumbricus terrestris) and the Red Earthworm (Lumbricus rubellus). These earthworms were introduced from Europe many years ago. Most native earthworms are thought to be long gone.



Earthworms' bodies are soft and long with a cylinder shape. Nightcrawlers, the largest, can grow up to eight inches long. Their coloration is brownish-red.

1 year ago

Earthworms live in soil in meadows, woods, stream banks, and lawns. They burrow up to six feet deep.

1 year ago

Earthworms are important in nature because they move through the soil, eating it and moving it. This mixes the nutrients in the soil and allows air and water to get into it as well. Plants will then grow better in the soil and this helps all wildlife.

1 year ago



Dennis R. Linden

1 year ago

1 year ago

Earthworms can regenerate, which means to grow back part of its body if severed (cut). It does not mean if a mealworm is cut in half, it will become two earthworms. If the tail end of the earthworm is removed by a hungry bird, or another predator, the worm can grow a new one over time.

1 year ago

Earthworms will eat just about anything organic (natural), especially dead leaves and other dead plant material. They will also eat manure (animal poop), some living plants (including Red Clover), and dead animals (carrion). Sometimes they accidentally eat tiny live animals because they are in the soil. Some favorite earthworm foods include dead leaves that are high in sugar, from trees such as American Sycamore, maples, ashes, birches, and American Elm.

1 year ago

Earthworms breathe through their skin, so they must stay moist.

1 year ago

Nightcrawlers build a burrow which has a small mound at the surface, called a "midden." At night the worm will stretch its body out to pull food back into its burrow. It keeps its back end anchored in the burrow so it can disappear quickly should a predator show up. This is why you will sometimes see a bird pulling on an earthworm from the ground. The rest of it is in its burrow.

1 year ago

1 year ago

Earthworms are hermaphroditic, meaning they can all lay eggs after they mate. Earthworms lay coccoons which have an egg inside.

11 months ago

Once an earthworm has hatched, it can live up to about three years.

11 months ago

10 months ago

Many people wonder why earthworms are found in great numbers on rainy days. Mistakenly, people think they are "flooded" out of the ground. This is not true. Remember, earthworms breathe through their skin, which must stay moist. Therefore, rainy days are the perfect time for an earthworm to look for a new place to live. If an earthworm population gets too large in one place, many will seek a new location when they can.

10 months ago

Earthworms have many predators, including: ants, mites, centipedes, earwigs, nematodes, fly larvae, termites, springtails, sowbugs, snails, slugs, spiders, birds, rats, mice, moles, toads, turtles, and snakes.

10 months ago

Field Cricket


Gryllus pennsylvanicus





10 months ago

Field Crickets are the crickets everyone sees and hears in late Summer and Fall. They grow up to an inch long, and are black and brown. They have large hind legs and two cerci (spiky things coming out of the back of their abdomens).

10 months ago

Female Field Crickets also have an ovipositor. An ovipositor is the longer spiky thing (about 3/4 inch) coming from the abdomen between the cerci.

9 months ago

Field Crickets live mostly in fields and forest edges.

9 months ago



Photo by Jeff Hahn, University of Minnesota Extension Service

9 months ago

Field Cricket eggs hatch in the Spring, usually May. Young crickets are called nymphs. Nymphs eat a lot and grow quickly. They will molt (shed their outer skin) eight or more times as they grow up. With each molt, the nymphs look more and more like an adult. Young nymphs basically look like a cricket with no wings.

9 months ago

Field Crickets eat plant material, especially seeds, small fruits, and living and dead insects. If they are really hungry, they will even eat each other!

9 months ago

Once Field Crickets are fully grown (about a month and a half after they are born) they will look for a mate. Male crickets "sing and dance" to attract females. The "song" is made by rubbing the front wings together. Females hear the song through tympanum (eardrums) on their front legs. Once a female approaches a male, he will do a move back and forth in a sort of courtship "dance."

8 months ago

James H. Robinson



8 months ago

After mating, female Field Crickets look for some damp soil to lay eggs. They inject their ovipositors, like a needle, deep into the soil. She will lay about 50 eggs at a time through her ovipositor. One female can lay over 400 eggs in her short life.

8 months ago

Field Crickets do not survive over the winter. Any adult crickets or nymphs will die when cold weather arrives. Eggs, however, overwinter. They will survive and hatch the following Spring.

8 months ago



Copyright, J. E. Lloyd, Singing Insects of North America, http://buzz.ifas.ufl.edu/

8 months ago

Field Crickets are most active at night. The songs of many males can be heard on Summer and Fall evenings. The song is usually a high trill played in threes. To hear the sound of a male Field Cricket, click the link below.

7 months ago

Field Crickets have many predators, including birds, frogs, toads, turtles, and other insects.

7 months ago

Leopard SlugLimax maximus




Shetland Biological Records Centre

7 months ago

Leopard Slugs were introduced to America, but are now common. They grow to four inches. They are usually grayish yellow with black spots or bands. Often they are wrinkled.

7 months ago

Leopard Slugs have four tentacles on their head; two long ones and two short ones.

7 months ago

Leopard Slugs live in fields, woods, and gardens. They prefer damp, shady places. In daylight, you can find them under rocks, logs, and similar places.

6 months ago

These slugs are mostly nocturnal, but will sometimes come out on rainy days.

6 months ago




Naturhistoriska museet

6 months ago

5 months ago



Courtesty of the Royal British Columbia Museum, Photographer: Philip Lambert

5 months ago



Copyright, Wolfgang Fischer

5 months ago

Leopard Slugs have interesting mating habits. First, they will circle each other, before intertwining their bodies. They do this from a tree branch or near an edge. Next, the two slugs will fall from the branch and hang, suspended by mucus slime. After mating, since slugs are hermaphroditic, both slugs will be able to lay eggs.

5 months ago

Leopard Slug eggs are clear and laid in groups of over 100. New slugs will hatch the following Spring. Leopard Slugs typically live up to three years.

4 months ago

As these slugs hunt at night, they glide on a cushion of mucus slime. This slime leaves a trail, which slugs will use to return to the same feeding spot the next night.

4 months ago

Leopard Slugs eat leaves, flowers, and fruits of plants. They will also eat mushrooms, carrion (dead animals), and will regularly hunt other slugs.

4 months ago

Leopard Slugs have many predators, including: toads, turtles, beetles, birds, flies, and fireflies.

4 months ago

Isopod


Armadillidium vulgare

4 months ago

3 months ago

Isopods are often known as "pillbugs", because they roll into a tight ball that looks like a pill. They are sometimes confused with "sowbugs" which look very similar. Sowbugs, however, have flatter bodies and cannot roll into a ball.

3 months ago

Isopods can grow up to half an inch. They are usually gray or brown or black, with an oval-shaped body. They have seven armor plates, called "pereonites," which protect them. They also have seven pairs of short legs.

3 months ago

Isopods have two pairs of antennae; one pair feels along the ground.

3 months ago

This animal is a crustacean, so its cousins are crabs, crayfish, and shrimp. Just like those creatures, Isopods have gills and need water to breathe. Since they live on land, and not in the water, Isopods must stay in moist places.

3 months ago

2 months ago

Isopods live under rocks, logs, leaves and other damp places. They can be found in forests, meadows, and basements. These animals are nocturnal, but will sometimes be found outside on damp, foggy days.

2 months ago

Isopods were introduced from Europe, but are well established in North America.

2 months ago

Female Isopods carry eggs in a pouch called a "marsupium." When the young Isopods hatch, they will stay in the pouch until they are old enough to be on their own.

2 months ago

Isopods eat fungi and decaying plant matter, as well as young plant growth, and sometimes dead animal matter.

2 months ago

Isopods live for about three to four years.

1 month ago

They have many predators, including: ants, spiders, shrews, toads, frogs, newts, lizards, small owls, foxes, centipedes, harvestmen, beetles, and even other isopods.

1 month ago

Isopods' ability to roll into a ball helps them defend themselves from some predators, especially ants and spiders which will give up.

1 month ago

Copyright 2002, William Leonard

1 month ago

Rabid Wolf Spider



Rabidosa rabida

3 weeks ago



E.R. Degginger / Color-Pic, Inc.

2 weeks ago

The Rabid Wolf Spider is easily confused with other wolf spiders. It can be identified by its stripe pattern.

1 week ago

The cephalothorax (front body section) has two dark stripes. The abdomen (rear body section) has one dark stripe surrounded by two pale lines.