Area children get look at vernal ponds


Make text smaller Make text larger



Photos



  • Kevin Mitchell showing the difference between frog and salamander eggs.




  • Harrison Hayenhjelm of Lafayette checks on frog eggs in the pond.




  • Going over the food chain chart on what frogs and salamanders eat.




  • Nuala Ventimiglia of Wantage found a paint turtle sun bathing that hid in his shell.



Hikers enjoyed the 80-degree weather on Saturday, exploring the trails at Lusscroft Farm on an hour-and-a-half, two-mile trek led by Heritage and Agriculture Association, Inc. volunteer Kevin Mitchell.

“In early spring, water collects in depressions in the ground where it forms pools that remain until summer," Mitchell said. "These ‘vernal ponds’ are temporary, but recur in the same location each year. They lack inflow and outflow and don’t contain fish.”

Mitchell said the colder and longer winter has affected the activity of the frogs and salamanders and Mitchell hoped the recent run of warm weather would have made the pond organisms more active.

The hike covered the Sugar Bush (895 ft.), JanineEdMikeAudrey (1650 ft.) and Great (2860 ft.) Trails on the farm. Just emerging from maple sugaring season where H&AA volunteers tap into the trees in late February to collect sap for maple syrup, sold during the open house event every March, the group of 20 hikers was introduced to three of the half-dozen vernal ponds around Lusscroft to search for Wood Frog, Spotted Salamander and Redback Salamander eggs.

Hikers also were told to keep a look out for American Toads, Upland Chorus Frogs and Spring Peepers. Peepers, as Mitchell describes, are “tiny frogs, no bigger than my thumbnail!”

The way you can tell the difference between salamander and frog eggs, according to Mitchell, is not by observing color, but by keeping an eye out for layers.

"Both salamanders and frogs lay eggs in clumps, but salamanders put another coating over all the eggs,” he said.

Mitchell says although both the frogs and salamanders begin breeding around this time, everything is dependent on temperature, weather and so on. However, it’s usually the salamanders that start their reproductive cycles first.

“The male Spotted Salamander, for example, will leave his sperm on the bottom of the pond. The sperm attracts the females, who then fertilize themselves with it.”

More than meets the eye

Cooper Mateja, 9 of Ogdensburg collected pond samples with Mitchell and stored them in jars to be observed under microscopes.

“It’s a lesson in the food web, where everything is interconnected," Mitchell said. "The frogs and salamanders, for example, will eat plant material and pond micro-organisms. I wanted to show the kids who signed up for this hike and demonstrated a genuine interest in vernal pond life that when you look at the water, there’s always something else going on beyond the surface.”

Cooper’s mom, Amy Mateja, said she brought her son on the hike to give him a proper appreciation for nature.

“Kids don’t play outside anymore,” she said.

Their second hike at Lusscroft, the Matejas participated in the farm’s Autumn Leaves Annual Hike on Oct. 6, Cooper's birthday.

The salamander and frog eggs should hatch in about one to three weeks.

“Some of the people on the hike were noticing brightly-colored red salamanders walking around on land," Mitchell said. "Those ones are called Red Eft Salamanders, or Eastern Red-spotted Newts. Their bright coloration serves as a warning to predators.”

The Red Eft is the immature stage of that particular salamander after having hatched and emerged from the water. The adult newts and larvae use gills to breathe and live in water, while terrestrial juveniles (Red Efts) develop lungs and mature as land dwellers. Afterwards, they darken in color and return to the pond.

This was the first hike Lafayette residents Daniel Hayenhjelm and wife, Nancy, participated in with their son, Harrison Hayenhjelm, 11.

They all agreed, “It was a great time.”

— Photos by Gale Miko

For more photos, visit www.advertisernewsnorth.com


Make text smaller Make text larger

Comments

Pool Rules



MUST READ NEWS

Image The Loyalist
In the middle of the night of May 21, 1780, with the American Revolutionary War in its sixth bloody year, there came a loud rapping at the old Sussex County Courthouse door,...
Image Three charged in Franklin drug probe
FRANKLIN — Franklin police have made three arrests following an investigation of narcotics distribution from within the borough of Franklin.
Jonathan Buffington, 19,...
Image Newton Theatre to kick off Halloween with Rocky Horror Picture Show
The Newton Theatre is kicking-off this year’s Halloween revelry with cult classic the Rocky Horror Picture Show with a...
Badfinger coming to Newton
Badfinger’s Straight Up Live and Complete starring Joey Molland is coming to The Newton Theatre on Saturday, Nov. 11, at 8...

VIDEOS



Sign up to get our newsletter emailed to you every week!

  • Enter your email address in the box below.
  • Select the newsletters you would like to subscribe to.
  • Click the 'SUBSCRIBE' button.



MOST READ

Local News
Dance Expression goes on Thank You tour
  • Sep 19, 2017
Local News
Jefferson Rec plans bowling program
  • Sep 20, 2017
Local News
Class of 2026
  • Sep 18, 2017
Local News
Pet day
  • Sep 18, 2017
Sports
Stags demolish Pirates, 62-0
  • Sep 14, 2017
Local News
Mineral Show planned for weekend
  • Sep 20, 2017
Entertainment
Oktoberfest coming to Mountain Creek
  • Sep 18, 2017
Letters to the Editor
In observance of child passenger safety week
  • Sep 15, 2017
Obituaries
Ralph Limon Rojas
  • Sep 20, 2017

MOST COMMENTED



Weather in Lafayette, NJ