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American Toad
4 years ago

Bufo americanus





Copyright, Tom Gula


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

4 years 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.

3 years 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.

3 years ago



Mark Moran

3 years 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!

3 years ago



J. Harding

3 years ago



Copyright, Brad Moon, California Academy of Sciences

3 years 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.

3 years 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.

3 years ago

Copyri



Copyright, Scott Egan, Rhode Island Vernal Pools

3 years 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.

3 years 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.

3 years 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.

3 years 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


3 years ago



Mark Moran

3 years 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.

3 years ago

American Toads can live up to thirty years.






David Malak www.wnywildlife.com


3 years ago

PREY/FOOD




Earthworm



Lumbricus genus


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


3 years 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.

3 years ago

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

3 years 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.

3 years ago



Dennis R. Linden

3 years ago

3 years 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.

3 years 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.

3 years ago

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

3 years 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.

3 years ago

3 years ago

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

3 years ago

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

3 years ago

3 years 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.

3 years 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.

3 years ago

Field Cricket


Gryllus pennsylvanicus





3 years 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).

3 years 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.

3 years ago

Field Crickets live mostly in fields and forest edges.

3 years ago



Photo by Jeff Hahn, University of Minnesota Extension Service

3 years 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.

3 years 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!

3 years 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."

3 years ago

James H. Robinson



3 years 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.

3 years 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.

3 years ago



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

3 years 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.

3 years ago

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

3 years ago

Leopard SlugLimax maximus




Shetland Biological Records Centre

3 years 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.

3 years ago

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

2 years 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.

2 years ago

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

2 years ago




Naturhistoriska museet

2 years ago

2 years ago



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

2 years ago



Copyright, Wolfgang Fischer

2 years 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.

2 years 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.

2 years 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.

2 years ago

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

2 years ago

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

2 years ago

Isopod


Armadillidium vulgare

2 years ago

2 years 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.

2 years 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.

2 years ago

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

2 years 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.

2 years ago

2 years 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 years ago

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

2 years 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 years ago

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

2 years ago

Isopods live for about three to four years.

2 years ago

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

2 years ago

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

2 years ago

Copyright 2002, William Leonard

2 years ago

Rabid Wolf Spider



Rabidosa rabida

2 years ago



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

2 years ago

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

2 years ago

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

2 years ago

The female, which is larger than the male, can have a body length (not counting legs) of almost an inch. The male's body is usually about half an inch.

2 years ago

2 years ago

2 years ago

Wolf spiders do not build webs to catch prey. They do weave silk to build a shelter, or to build a sac to carry eggs in.

2 years ago

Rabid Wolf Spiders hunt their food at night, ambushing prey or using their speed. This brownish-yellow spidercamouflages well with dead leaves and bark.

2 years ago

They eat mostly insects.

2 years ago

When Rabid Wolf Spiders breed, the male does a sort of "dance", by waving its pedipalps (large leg-like mouthparts). He also makes a noise.

2 years ago

When the female lays eggs, she builds a silk eggsac to carry them in. She attaches the sac to her abdomen. When spiderlings (baby spiders) hatch, they ride on her back until they are old enough to be on their own.

2 years ago

Rabid Wolf Spiders can be seen in woods, meadows, or anywhere there are leaves.

2 years ago

If captured, they will bite, but they are not considered dangerous.

2 years ago

If you see them at night with a flashlight, their eyes will reflect light.

2 years ago

2 years ago

Eastern Blood-sucking Conenose



Triatoma sanguisuga

2 years ago



UF/IFAS

2 years ago

The Eastern Blood-sucking Conenose lives up to its name. It is about 3/4 of an inch long. Its body is dark brown or black, with six orange spots on each side of its abdomen. It has a long head, which is cone-shaped with a long mouthpart, called a proboscis. This insect uses its proboscis to suck blood.

2 years ago

The conenose is found hiding in cracks or crevices, underneath bark, in tree holes, and in animal nests. They drink blood from mammals, such as rodents, opossums, racoons, dogs, cats, and people. It usually feeds on sleeping animals since it takes about 20 minutes to fill up.

2 years ago



Drees, Texas A&M University Department of Entomology

2 years ago

2 years ago

Female Eastern Blood-sucking Conenoses lay eggs after they feed. Eggs are small, white, and oval-shaped. These insects do not have a pupa (resting) stage, so their larvae are called nymphs. Conenose nymphs grow slowly and can take up to two years to become an adult. A nymph is pictured above.

1 year ago

Adult Eastern Blood-sucking Conenoses can fly, but are not very good at it. At night, they are attracted to lights, and they will often enter homes. Conenoses that have just fed cannot get off the ground to fly.

1 year ago

Eastern Blood-sucking Conenoses are eaten by most animals that prey on insects, such as birds and amphibians.

1 year ago

Black Carpenter Ant



Camponotus pennsylvanicus

1 year ago



Edward H. Holsten

1 year ago

Carpenter Ants are one of our most common ants. They are found in dead wood, such as trees, fallen logs, stumps, or even in houses.

1 year ago

Carpenter Ants are mostly black, usually ranging from 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch. They sometimes have a brown thorax(middle section). If you look carefully, you can see yellowish hairs on the abdomen (back section).

1 year ago

Carpenter Ants are mostly black, usually ranging from 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch. They sometimes have a brown thorax(middle section). If you look carefully, you can see yellowish hairs on the abdomen (back section).

1 year ago

The queen ant is larger, up to 3/4 inch. "Swarmers," winged male and female ants who are born in the Spring in order to mate are also about 3/4 inch.

1 year ago

1 year ago



Jim Kalisch

1 year ago

1 year ago

Carpenter Ants live in colonies. When the swarmers leave a colony in the Spring, males and females will mate. The males will then die and the females will lose their wings.

1 year ago

Each wingless female will try to become queen of a new colony. She will first seek out a good site, usually moist dead wood which has been weakened by fungus.

1 year ago

Once she has found a good site, she will lay up to 20 eggs.

1 year ago

Carpenter Ants go through several stages. 

1 year ago

 They will develop as eggs for about three weeks.

1 year ago

Then they will spend approximately another three weeks as larvae. 

1 year ago

Carpenter Ant larvae are small, white, and legless, resembling maggots (fly larvae). 

1 year ago

They will spend a final three weeks as pupae. 

1 year ago

This is the resting stage where they will form a small tan capsule, before emerging as adult ants.

1 year ago

The ants which come out of the pupae will be female worker ants.

1 year ago

They are sterile (unable to breed). 

1 year ago

 These workers will eat fluid given to them from the queen. 

1 year ago

When they are strong enough, they will begin gathering food and enlarging the nest. 

1 year ago

The queen will also lay more eggs, and the workers will care for them.

1 year ago

The queen's only job now is to lay eggs.

1 year ago

1 year ago

All of the new eggs will become female workers.

1 year ago

In a few years, there will be thousands of ants in the colony. 

1 year ago

 Two "levels" of workers will form: major workers and minor workers.

1 year ago

Major workers will guard the nest, battle intruders, explore, and find food.

1 year ago

Minor workers will expand the nest, and care for the young.

1 year ago

When a worker finds food, she will leave a scent trail on her way back to the colony. 

1 year ago

When she arrives, she will wiggle her abodomen to let other workers know she found food. 

1 year ago

They will then go out and follow her trail to the food source.

1 year ago

Workers in the nest will regurgitate (throw up) food for the queen and the larvae.

1 year ago

1 year ago

After a few years, when the colony has become successfull, the nest has been expanded, and thousands of ants are present, the queen will produce eggs which will become swarmers. 

1 year ago

These males and females will mate and continue the cycle.

1 year ago

Carpenter Ants eat mostly honeydew. 

11 months ago

Honeydew is a secretion from insects called aphids. 

11 months ago

Another group of insects which make honeydew used by ants are scale insects. 

11 months ago

Besides honeydew, Carpenter Ants will eat nectar from flowers, fruit juice, other insects, and even dead Carpenter Ants from their own colony. 

10 months ago

These ants look for food mostly at night, but they rarely travel more than 100 yards away from the nest.

10 months ago

Only one queen will be in a single colony.

9 months ago

She will lay thousands of eggs in her lifetime, including swarmers, some of which will become queens in new colonies.

9 months ago

Carpenter Ants do not eat wood, they only dig out galleries (rooms and hallways) in it.

9 months ago

Special chambers are used to store eggs, larvae, and pupae as they grow.

8 months ago

Carpenter Ants are an important food source for woodpeckers and other animals.

8 months ago

Pileated Woodpeckers are known for rooting out and swallowing entire colonies.

8 months ago

http://www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/carpenter_ant.htm


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

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