Field and Swamp: Animals and Their Habitats

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My Local Swamp/Marsh (in Durham, NC)

There is a low-lying area in my neighborhood that once was a duckweed-covered swamp bordered by a marsh during times of abundant rainfall.   The marsh contained cattails, false nutsedge and floating primrose-willows (Ludwigia peploides), which grew closest to the swamp and took it over during a 2007 drought.   Green Herons and Great Blue Herons visited the swamp when it was deepest and covered with duckweed.   The number of water primroses dwindled and the cattails at the edge of the marsh took over as the trees died and the swamp became a marsh.

Ladybug beetles, grasshoppers, green leafhoppers, Least Skippers (very numerous in September of 2005), Two-lined Froghoppers, Rice Stink Bugs and tiny mirid bugs have visited the marsh.  Toad Bugs and Shore Bugs showed up on the edges and probably farther into the marsh.  Eastern Narrowmouth Toads inside the wetter areas made bleating sounds during wetter periods.

On 6/24/05, during a time of plentiful rain, the swamp was filled with water covered with duckweed and a Green Heron visited for a couple of weeks.  On 8/18/07, during a long drought that began in spring, the water dried up and  the Floating Primrose-willows (Ludwigia peploides) took over. eventually losing their flowers. Floating Primrose-willow (Ludwigia peploides), described on the left. After a rain, there was a little vegetation where the water and duckweed used to be on 11/9/07.  This group of buttercups, sprang up on the edge of the marsh fronting the swamp after spring rains.  Here they are on 5/1/08.  

On the edge of the marsh, showing fall colors on 10/20/08.  A wonderful pseudo-tropical look. The (former) swamp in winter, invaded by cattails, 11/20/08: the swamp has apparently reverted to marsh. After a heavy rain, 3/17/09    


  New growth on 11/8/10.  Trees in the swamp died, but as it dried up, new trees appeared on the edges. Another view of these new trees (11/8/10) at the other side of the marsh. Broadleaf Cattail (Typha latifolia), 6/5/18.  Now the cattail marsh has taken over. 1/15/19.  Cattails have almost taken over, although there are a few small trees here and there. The cattail marsh is thriving, but some trees behind it are doing well.  6/23/19 On a sunny day, 7/22/20    


Killdeer, Durham, NC, 1/12/16 Killdeer pair, Durham, NC, 1/12/16 Killdeers,in a field near my neighborhood swamp, Durham, NC, 11/20/08.  A small rain had created a puzzle. Great Crested Flycatcher

Green Heron, 7/31/17 Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes), 5/2/05.  This bird only appeared once, was apparently migrating through. Two male Eastern Bluebirds flew out of the trees over the swamp to flutter near the ground on a neighboring field on 10/16/08.  Several site visitors suggested they had spotted a source of insect prey. Song Sparrow on cattails, 2/27/16    


Three views of same Green Treefrog, Durham, 10/3/05. 


Durham, 9/14/05.  Depending on your source, either an Eastern Narrowmouth Frog or Eastern Narrowmouth Toad, and its Latin name is Gastrophryne carolinensis (subfamily Microhylinae).  This frog/toad was about half an inch long and had strayed from the swamp in my Durham neighborhood, where others of its species normally remain hidden. I brought it back to the marsh edge. Eastern Narrow-mouth Toad, 10/15/08It was about 12 mm long, taking leaps much longer than its own length. Gray Treefrog.  Taken at my neighborhood swamp on 9/3/05.  This frog is fully mature: it has no green on top. Northern Cricket Frog, Durham, NC, 4/7/06. 

A very large tadpole, Durham, NC, 4/22/07 Green Frog, Durham, NC,  4/22/07


Leafhopper (Macrosteles quadrilineatus, subfamily Deltocephalinae) nymph and adult, Durham, NC, 8/15/07.  These were two of hundreds of such leafhoppers that were briefly seen there. The leaf they were on in this photo belonged to a water primrose. Leafhopper (Macrosteles quadrilineatus) in flight, Durham, NC, 8/15/07 Two-lined Froghopper (Prosapia bicincta), Durham, 9/23/05.  Found in my local marsh on a cattail leaf. Buffalo Treehopper (Ceresa alta), 7/2/12  


Most of the beetles in the swamp have been Ladybug Beetles, mostly the Spotted Ladybug Beetle.  But a Spotted Cucumber Beetle showed up once.  Very near the swamp, Shining Leaf Beetles (Neolema punctata) show up regularly.

Spotted Ladybug Beetle (Coleomegilla maculata) mating pair, Durham, NC, 6/17/06. Spotted Ladybug Beetle (Coleomegilla maculata) larva, Durham, 6/23/05, seen on a cattail leaf at the same marsh as the adult Coleomegilla maculata beetles above.  ID based on Marshall (2006), p. 345. Seven-spotted Ladybug Beetle (Coccinella septempunctata) larva, Durham (edge of marsh at neighborhood swamp), 4/11/09.  This plump but nimble little rascal climbed rapidly over grass plants and other objects, readily bending in two. Ladybug Beetle pupa, Durham, 6/18/05.  I found this sitting on a leaf of a tree near the edge of the swamp.  This was about a third of an inch long. This illustrates some interesting similarities.  A Spotted Cucumber Beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata, subfamily Galerucinae), at right, shared water primrose nectar with a (mainly carnivorous) ladybug beetle (Coleomagilla maculata) on 7/2/05. 

Shining leaf beetle (Neolema sexpunctata), Durham, NC, 7/1/07.  This was a tiny beetle, about 4 mm long. Soft-winged flower beetle (Collops genus, Melyridae family), Durham, NC, 8/23/08

Margined Leather-wing (Chauliognathus marginatus).  Wing maintenance, Durham swamp, 7/2/05.  Notice the leg over the wing. Sometime later.

Water Scavenger Beetle (Hydrophilus triangularis), Durham, 6/19/06.  This beetle was underwater at the time. Same Water Scavenger Beetle.

True Bugs

Stink bug, Durham, NC, 8/21/06.  Probably a Spined Soldier Bug,  perhaps somewhat emaciated.  The marsh habitat seems to change the appearance of stink bugs. Rice Stink Bug, Durham, NC, 8/23/08. It's using its beak to drink from a water droplet on a cattail leaf. Rice Stink Bug nymph, with wing pads, dorsal view, Durham, NC, 7/18/09.  Brown Stink Bug (Euschistus servus [Say, 1832]), Durham, 10/18/06, found near the swamp in an area with a lot of Oriental River Grass.  This is a notorious soybean pest.  But since soybeans aren't grown anywhere around here, seeing one around here (in my neighborhood, in this case) is a rare treat. Mirid bug nymph, Durham, NC, 11/9/07.  Confirmed by Eric R. Eaton. Mirid Bug, most likely a Tarnished Plant Bug.  It was crawling over Smartweed buds in my Durham neighborhood marsh on 9/26/05. Stilt Bug, Durham, NC, 8/30/06, a short distance from the swamp in a wooded section.  

Ambush bug nymph, about 2 mm long, Durham, NC, 6/30/08 Toad Bug, also seen in the neighborhood swamp periphery, on 4/18/06.  Note the difference in shape and coloring. Toad Bug, found near my neighborhood swamp in a marshy area on 5/27/05. How is this for camouflage? This small bug was found in the general vicinity of numerous small Fowler's Toads. Shore Bug (Saldula pallipes [Van Duzee, 1914], cf. Insects of Cedar Creek Saldula page), Durham, 4/9/06.  Seen in a large marsh bordering on a swamp.  This bug was about ⅛ inch long.  These are scavengers.  

"True" Butterflies

Courting Common Buckeyes, 10/16/08 Common Buckeye, 10/16/08      


Dion Skipper.  This relatively large skipper showed up on the edge of the edge of the marsh early on 9/5/05.  It looked more orange than brown in direct light.  The light ray on the hind wing is characteristic. Least Skippers mating, with a would-be interloper, 9/14/05.  The marsh was full of Least Skippers at this time.        


Yellow-collared Scape Moth, on asters bordering on the marsh.


Crab spider (Xysticus genus), 10/15/08 Crab spider, and 3 mm long Male Black-tailed Red Sheetweaver(Florinda coccinea), 9/3/05.  Dew drops on a spider web, 7/25/09  


Millipede, Polydesmida order.  At first glance, it looks like a centipede, though.        


Adult mosquito emerging from pupa.  Durham, NC, 9/8/06.  The dark objects on the right are probably mosquito pupae.  These appeared in a puddle near my neighborhood swamp. Adult mosquito with foot on exuviae, Durham, NC, 9/8/06 Mosquito larvae, Durham, NC, 6/17/07.   This is just a subset of a ball of possibly hundreds of such larvae.  They appeared on the edge of my neighborhood swamp. Mosquito larvae, Durham, 7/27/06.  Note how bubbles come from the tail ends of the larvae.

Marsh Flies

Marsh fly, Durham, NC, 7/13/07 Marsh Fly, Durham, 9/14/05.  Found in same swamp.  Thanks to Josh Rose for ID.      

Picture-winged Flies

Picture-winged fly (Chaetopsis genus) Picture-winged Fly (Delphinia picta), Durham, 6/13/06, on a cattail leaf.  As is the case with the Stilt-legged Flies, these are mainly marsh dwellers.      

Stilt-legged Flies

Mating Stilt-legged Flies (Micropezidae family), Durham, NC, 6/13/06.  Many mating animals are easy to photograph, but these were really on the move!          

Flower Flies

Flower fly (Eristalis dimidiatus), 10/20/08 Virginia Flower Fly (Milesia virginiensis), 10/20/08      

Other Flies

Female soldier fly (maybe Microchrysa polita).  Tentative ID thanks to Shannon Donavan.          


Mealy Plum Aphid, found in a group on cattails in the marsh. Adult and nymph Mealy Plum Aphids  


Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella), Durham, 8/21/05.  Male Spangled Skimmer (Libellula cyanea) on a cattail , 6/13/06  


This adult male Citrine Forktail is an especially anomalous damselfly, seen in a Durham swamp on 6/18/05.  Note the markings on the wings.  Thanks to Josh Rose for ID. This male Citrine Forktail (Durham, 6/27/05) seems to be normal.   This damselfly is even shorter than the Fragile Forktail (less than an inch long), and was barely visible to me.  Orange form female Citrine Forktail, 10/15/08 Blue form female Citrine Forktail, Durham, 9/26/05.  Has possibly experienced some wear and tear on the end of the abdomen; I've seen many looking like that.        


Globular springtail (Ptenothrix unicolor), seen on a log showing evidence of termite tunnels in my neighborhood swamp on 10/25/12.  ID thanks to Frans Janssen.          

 Copyright 2005-2019 Dorothy E. Pugh. All pictures copyrighted.

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