What's in a vernal pool? - Nature Club recap

Last week during our river and pond program, we had the chance to look at some pond-loving minibeasts in a microscope.  Here is some of what we found:

A copepod is a tiny crustacean (like crabs, lobsters, and pillbugs).  This type is called Cyclops because of its one eye.

This cyclops is female.  See her eggs?  In the water, she looks like tiny white Mickey Mouse ears, skittering around--no bigger than a small freckle.  Fun fact: Plankton like copepods are carriers of cholera.  Don't drink the water!

Here are two types of crustaceans called Cladocera or water fleas.  They are even smaller than a cyclops--just a cloud of specks in the water.

This water flea appears to be Chydoridae.

And this one is maybe a type of Daphnia.  Here she is in a different light:

See her branching antennae?

Moving on from crustaceans, we also have cnidarians in vernal pools.  Cnidarians are "simple animals that sting things to death"--corals, jellyfish, and anemones.  This type of cnidarian is a Hydra:

A hydra like this will look like a tiny green hair in the water, usually stuck to a plant--no more than a millimeter long.  When frightened, it scrunches up like this:

A scrunched up hydra is so small that it looks like a neon green speck of plant matter.

And of course, there are insects galore in the water.  Here are two:

This terrifying cutie looks like a hellgrammite (dobsonfly larva), but he is actually the dobsonfly's close cousin, the fishfly.  Check out those breathing tubes on his bottom!

This guy with the expressive face is a midge larva.  You can tell him from a mosquito because he's the same thickness all the way down--mosquitoes are thicker at the head.

Nature Club, for children in 2nd grade and up, meets monthly on Thursdays at 3 PM.  Visit this link to see our current schedule and sign up!

Previous nature blogs:

Birding at the library?!

What's Blooming Now? Hayswood Nature Reserve

What's Blooming Now? Woodland Edition

Frogs and Toads of Harrison County

Spider Identification

Springtime nature tips for the family

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