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Field and Swamp: Animals and Their Habitats

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My Neighborhood Power Line Cut Mini-Swamp (Durham, NC)

This special habitat is actually to the side of a power line cut where there is a small marsh with a group of puddles that vary in size and location with maintenance work done to keep plants from encroaching on the power lines.   But no matter how much work is done, it still manages to revert to its natural wildness -- in a different way each time.

This a big-picture view from 9/22/07, before it was cut back. These are the favorite plants of tortoise beetles, but apparently not bindweed family, i.e., Convolvulaceae, members, as they appeared on 9/22/07. This is a swampy part of this area, with cattails (Typha latifolia), grasses and algae, on 4/24/08. Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis), 8/24/07  Mock Strawberry (Duchesnea indica), about 15 mm in diameter, found in an unmowed meadow adjoining the power line cut.  These fruits have no taste and resemble true strawberries only in appearance.


Tortoise Beetles have something extra:  A transparent, reflective  "shell."  Sometimes you can see the red-orange elytra of the Golden Tortoise Beetle right through the shell; at other times, you simply get a reflection of the surroundings.  That has to be even better than camouflage for confusing prospective predators!  These are tiny beetles, about 5 mm long maximum.

Golden Tortoise Beetles (Charidotella bicolor)

Golden Tortoise Beetle (Charidotella bicolor), Durham, NC, 7/1/07.  These are photos of the same beetle, taken in different lights. Golden Tortoise Beetle,  Durham, NC  9/10/06

Clavate Tortoise Beetles (Plagiometriona clavata)

Clavate Tortoise Beetle (Plagiometriona clavata) larva, Durham, NC, 7/6/07.  This insect was about 3 mm long.  ID thanks to Donald S. Chandler.


Burdock Beetle (Leptinotarsa juncta, subfamily Chrysomelinae).  I found this beetle munching on a leaf of one of my least favorite weeds (Horse Nettle).  Durham, 9/27/05.  Thanks to Eric Eaton for ID. Burdock Beetle. Same beetle, playing dead.  Close to looking like a Colorado Potato Beetle, but no cigar: the broad black stripe and the thorax markings set it apart.

A very big weevil, Lixus genus, Lixinae subfamily, Durham, NC, 5/25/06. It was about an inch long.   It showed up near a mini-swamp next to a power line cut.  Thanks to Eric Eaton for ID. Weevil (Lixus genus), Durham, NC, 9/7/08, also about one inch long.

True Bugs

Stilt Bugs, Durham, NC, 7/1/07.  You can see the beak on the left one in the large image.  These two seemed to be courting. Wheel Bug nymph, Durham, 5/28/06, on pine needles.  Apparently a very well-fed bug. Rhopalid bug, Durham, NC, 8/24/07.  A tiny bug, about 5 mm long.  Note the little hairs on the wings. Rhopalid bug (probably Harmostes genus), Durham, NC, 7/29/07.  This bug was about 8 mm long.


Male Common Green Darner, Durham, 7/27/06.  This darner was constantly in flight at the edge of a swamp, but hovered long enough for me to take this photo.

Frogs and Toads

These frogs and toads lived in what were really no more than puddles at the edge of the power line cut.

Northern Cricket Frog, Durham, 10/28/05.  Northern Cricket Frog, Durham, 3/5/06.  American Toad mating pair, Durham, 3/4/06.  The blue and white beads are apparently eggs.

© Copyright 2005-7 Dorothy E. Pugh. All pictures copyrighted.

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