June 15, 2011
- Miraculous Transformations
- Family Fun
- Upcoming DEC Events
Some animals begin life looking entirely different from how they will look as adults. They undergo a miraculous transformation that takes them through several stages of development.
Rather than a hard shell like bird eggs have, frog eggs are covered with a protective, jelly-like material. Some egg masses float in the water, while others are attached to underwater plants. Female frogs may lay thousands of eggs. After laying and fertilizing their eggs, most frogs abandon them.
When the eggs hatch, tiny tadpoles (polliwogs) emerge. Tadpoles have round bodies, gills and flattened tails. How long it takes for a tadpole to grow legs, develop lungs and absorb its tail depends on the species of frog. While many tadpoles may hatch, only a few reach adulthood. Other aquatic animals may eat them, they may be affected by water pollution, or the pond in which they have been living may dry up before they are fully mature and able to hop away.
All species of butterflies go through a complete metamorphosis or transformation. There are four stages: egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa (chrysalis) and adult. Eggs are usually laid on a plant, which serves as food for the caterpillars when they hatch. Caterpillars eat a lot and grow to hundreds of times their original size. When they are big enough, caterpillars attach themselves to a plant or other object with silk threads that form a case (pupa). Once in the pupa stage, the caterpillar's body structure changes so that it emerges as an adult butterfly with wings.
There are three stages of a dragonfly's life cycle: egg, nymph and adult. The female dragonfly lays her eggs on a plant in the water, injects them into a plant or drops them into the water. After the eggs hatch, they begin to develop into nymphs. Once a nymph is fully grown, it climbs up the stem of a plant and sheds its skin. Nymphs live in ponds or marshes until they develop into adult dragonflies, a process that for some species can take four years! Most of our common pond species develop into adults in about one year, while some river species complete the transformation in two to three years. The adult dragonfly hunts for food and begins to look for a mate to start the cycle all over again. They must lay their eggs quickly because adults only live about two months.
Want to learn more about dragonflies and damselflies? This month's issue of Conservationist magazine has a full article about these amazing creatures.
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Subscribe to Conservationist magazine-New York's award-winning publication with astonishingly beautiful photography and captivating articles.
Learn the best places to view wildlife at DEC's Watchable Wildlife pages.
Build a "Pond" in your Backyard
All animals, including insects, need water to survive. You can build a small habitat in your own backyard that may attract frogs and dragonflies, along with other creatures. You will need a plastic garbage can (in the circumference that you want your pond to be), strong scissors, a shovel, large rocks, floating pond plants and water. Trim the top of the garbage can until it is as deep as you want your pond.
Look for a flat spot in your backyard, and dig a hole deep enough so that the garbage can will stick out only about two inches above the ground. Place the can in the hole, fill it with water, and pack dirt around any gaps. Put the rocks around the rim of the can and the plants between them. Pack the dirt tightly around the rocks and plants. Put a few fish (koi or goldfish) in your pond to eat mosquito larvae. It shouldn't be too long before squirrels, birds, frogs and other creatures visit your pond for a drink.
Look and Listen
Learn about the frogs in your area and what their calls sound like. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums has a list of New York frog species on their website. You can learn more about each species, see pictures of them, and listen to recordings of their calls. Then you will be ready to head outside to a wetland or marshy area to look and listen for these amazing creatures. Keep track of what you see and hear to find out what kinds of frogs live in your neighborhood. For more information about frogs, check out the May 21, 2008 issue of Outdoor Discovery.
Read Conservationist for Kids for more information and activities!
Upcoming DEC Events
Statewide Free Fishing Weekend
Saturday, June 25 and Sunday, June 26
No freshwater or saltwater fishing license is required to fish this weekend.
(currently closed due to fiscal constraints, but the Stony Kill Foundation is sponsoring events)
Old Fashioned Family Sing-a-Long with Chris Ruhe
Friday, June 24 from 5:30 to 7:30 PM
Barn Day for Kids
Wednesday, June 29 from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
For youngsters entering grades 1 to 3.
Norrie Point Environmental Center
Saturday, June 25 at 10:00 AM
Citizen Science: Firefly Watch Training
Saturday, June 18 at 10:00 AM
Call 518-475-0291 by Wednesday, June 15 to register.
How to Do It: Hiking/Backpacking Safety
Saturday, June 18 from 1:00 to 4:00 PM
Scout groups welcome. Call 518-475-0291 by Wednesday, June 15 to register.
Flowers of the Solstice
Tuesday, June 21 at 7:00 PM
Family Fun: Insect Extravaganza
Saturday, June 25 at 10:00 AM
Parent(s) and child(ren) must accompany each other. Space is limited. Call 518-475-0291 to register by June 20.
Family Fun: Explore a Stream
Saturday, June 25 at 2:00 PM
Wear foot gear that can get wet (no flipflops, please). Space is limited. Call 518-475-0291 to register by June 20.
Albany Pine Bush Preserve Discovery Center
Almost Summer Solstice Hike
Friday, June 17 from 7:30 PM to 9:00 PM
Call 518-456-0655 to register. Cost: $2.00/person, $5.00/family, children under 5 free.
Western New York
Advance registration is required. Call 716-683-5959.
Wednesday, June 15 at 8:00 PM
Bring binoculars if you have them.
Thursdays, June 16 and 23 at 4:30 PM
For children in grades K-5. No registration required.
Saturday, June 18 at 9:30 AM
Meander in the Woods
Saturday, June 18 from 4:30 PM to 8:00 PM
Come join us for the Friends of Reinstein's annual fundraiser. Tickets are available for $30.00.
Summer Solstice Twilight Walk
Tuesday, June 21 at 8:00 PM
Family Fun Fest: Alien Invaders!
Saturday, June 25 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Outdoor Adventure Club: Insects of the Night
Tuesday, June 28 at 8:00 PM
For youth age 12 and older.
Dragons in Your Backyard
Wednesday, June 29 at 10:30 AM
For adults and kids age 8 and older.