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MAY is for Mayfly nymph
For much of this month I have been fortunate to lead a few school groups in pond exploration. For me, "ponding" (that's what we call it at Drumlin Farm where I teach part-time) is FUN and exciting. The first time I explored pond life, about 4 or 5 years ago when I started this work, I was hooked. A universe I hadn't known existed appeared before me. (I compare this to the first bird I saw that opened my eyes to birding. Forty years ago in Port Jefferson Long Island, it was an exquisite Indigo Bunting perched in the sunlight on tall grass.) Do you know you can find not only reptiles (turtles and snakes) and amphibians (frogs and salamanders adult and young alike) in a pond, but also crustaceans (isopods, copepods, fairy shrimp, scud), mollusks (snails), annelids (segmented worms and leeches) and numerous insects in all four developmental stages? Some of these insects leave the water when they become adults and these are the ones with which we are most familiar. They include black flies, mosquitoes, dragonflies, damselflies, and mayflies. Mayflies, like dragon and damselflies, undergo a three-part metamorphosis: egg, nymph, and adult. Here is a picture of a mayfly nymph we found the other day:
The damselfly nymph (below) looks very similar to the mayfly nymph (above). But the mayfly nymph has noticeable gills along side the abdomen and 3 graceful-looking tails (or cerci). I think the mayfly nymph is one of the most beautiful creatures you will find in a pond.
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