Into The Wild: Pond Edge

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From Xplor: March/April 2018

Pull on your rubber boots and grab a dip net. It’s time to explore the wild edge where land and water meet.


When startled, young bullfrogs squeak out high-pitched yelps as they hop to safety. When they’re looking for mates, male bullfrogs make calls that sound like deep, rumbling burps.

Take a Closer Look

If you swish a dip net through the water, you might catch a baby dragonfly, called a nymph. Nymphs spend their time underwater hunting for small aquatic creatures. When a nymph is ready to change into an adult, it crawls out of the water and anchors its claws into a plant. The nymph’s skin splits open, and an adult dragonfly wiggles out.

Did You Know?

Bullfrogs have big mouths and big appetites. They’ll eat anything they can cram into their cavernous pie holes, including crayfish, minnows, mice, shrews, songbirds, young snakes, and even smaller bullfrogs.


Tadpoles have gills that they use to breathe water. As a tadpole grows, hind legs form and its tail shrinks. Soon, front legs and lungs form. At this stage, the baby frog or toad leaves behind its life underwater and starts breathing air.


Dragonflies might be the deadliest hunters in the animal kingdom. Studies have shown they catch nearly 95 percent of the insects they pursue. You can find many kinds of dragonflies patrolling a pond. Here are a few common ones to look for.


Sweet flag, also known as calamus, looks a lot like a clump of cattails. But it’s easy to tell the two plants apart. Just crush a leaf and sniff. If it smells spicy or like citrus, it’s sweet flag.

What Happened Here?

You found amphibian eggs, but what kind? Here’s an easy way to tell. Frog eggs usually look like a cluster of clear grapes. Toad eggs look like long strings. Salamander eggs often look like a clump of clear jelly with seeds, and you can't usually tell where one egg ends and another begins.

  • Twelve-spotted skimmer
  • Green darner
  • Blue dasher
  • Eastern pondhawk
  • Common whitetail

Did You Know?

Red-eared sliders are named for their talent of sliding quickly off of logs when approached.


When basking on a log, turtles often stretch out their legs to absorb as much sunshine as possible. This raises the turtle’s temperature and helps its body produce vitamin D.

Also In This Issue

Boy in Mud
Animals don’t mind a mess. In fact, they love getting muddy.
Speckled Kingsnake in the grass
Fold up our mini field guide and find 10 great snakes near you.

This Issue's Staff

Bonnie Chasteen
Les Fortenberry
Karen Hudson
Angie Daly Morfeld
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White