April 20, 2009

Transformations in our little pond

During a quick lunch break today, I sat by the little pond we have here at Alderleaf. Its only about 18-20 feet long by maybe 6 feet wide. But, there is a wealth of life in it.

As I sat there looking into the water, I saw that the tadpoles have hatched and are growing very rapidly. Many of them were hanging out in the warm water of the shallows.

An adult Pacific Treefrog floated in the open water in the middle of the pond, its legs dangling down into the deeper water. It seemed to ponder the strange animal that was sitting there watching it, then decided to dive down and hide.

Suddenly, I noticed a mayfly larva floating up to the surface of the pond. It floated there for a second or two, then started arching and flexing its back rapidly against the water's surface. Within 5 seconds, the larva transformed into a totally different creature. Its body split down the middle and a fully formed, winged adult mayfly was standing over the old shell that once housed the mayflies body. It stood on the surface of the water on spindly legs, wings shimmering in the sun, and double tail arched upward. Not more than 15 seconds after that, it was flying away from the pond on the breeze!

I have never witnessed such a rapid transformation before! It made my jaw drop...

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