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Field and Swamp: Animals and Their Habitats

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Swamp (and Marsh) Animals

Most of these animals showed up in my neighborhood marsh and swamp in Durham, NC.  To see anhingas, egrets, teals, yellowbelly sliders and more alligators Audubon Swamp Garden.

American Alligator

This was one of three little American Alligators that I saw at the I'on Swamp of the Francis Marion National Forest, Charleston County, SC, 3/29/06


Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortix), Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, Dare County, NC,  9/25/04.  This snake showed up in a pocosin swamp area. Adult Redbelly Water Snake (Nerodia erythrogaster), Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, Dare County, NC, 5/7/06.  This snake showed up in a marsh off Milltail Road Adult Redbelly Water Snake, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 4/18/05, in a small swamp that dried up during a drought the next year. Mystery marsh snake, Ocracoke, 5/9/06

Frogs and Toads

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 swamp edge. American Toad mating pair, Durham, 3/4/06.  The blue and white beads are apparently eggs. Young Fowler's Toad, Durham (bordering my neighborhood marsh near the swamp), 6/9/05.  This immature toad is starting to get a stripe down its back, a mark of adulthood. Young Fowler's Toad, Durham, 5/27/05.  Like the toad on the left, this was one of hundreds in this small area, no two alike in color and pattern. Northern Cricket Frog, Durham, 10/28/05.  In mini-swamp in my neighborhood.


Three views of same Green Treefrog, Durham, 10/3/05.  Typical languid frogs in my neighborhood swamp!


Right in the heart of my Durham neighborhood swamp, duckweed and all, in a Green Heron, seen on 6/26/05 and many days thereafter. Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza georgiana), Audubon Swamp Garden, Charleston County, SC, 3/28/06 Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus), Pea Island NWR, 5/7/06, near a marshy area. Juvenile male  Eastern Bluebird, Durham, 9/19/05.  Eastern Bluebirds frequently land in the leafless branches of trees in my neighborhood swamp, as did this one. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptera caerulea), Durham, 7/16/05. Female Red-winged Blackbird, Durham, 3/22/06.  Seen in the marshy area fronting my neighborhood swamp.  Her face is partially obscured by a twig.


Female Blue-winged Teal and offspring, Audubon Swamp Garden, Charleston County, SC,  3/28/04. Male Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors), Audubon Swamp Garden, Charleston County, SC, 3/28/06. Common Moorhen (Gallinula Chloropus), Audubon Swamp Garden, Charleston County, SC, 3/28/06


Tricolored Heron, Ocracoke, 5/10/06, just off the road through a marshy area to the southern end of the island. American Coot (Fulica americana), Ocracoke Island, Hyde County, NC, 5/19/05, in the same general area as the Tricolored Heron on the right. Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea), Audubon Swamp Garden, Charleston County, SC, 3/28/06

Butterflies & Skippers

Least Skippers (Ancyloxypha numitor) are the ultimate marsh and swamp lepidopterans:  They are found in few other places, and were superabundant in my Durham neighborhood swamp during the summer of 2005, during which time mating territory was hotly contested. 

Mating Least Skippers with interloper in my Durham neighborhood marsh fronting a swamp, 9/14/05.  This third skipper went to an awful lot of trouble to butt in, but mating proceeded nonetheless.


This Least Skipper was moving rapidly through a pocosin (black-water swamp) in Alligator River National Wildlife Reserve in Dare County on 9/25/04. This Least Skipper was perched on some grass blades coming out of Siler's Bog in Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Chapel Hill, Orange County, NC in the morning (10:39 am) on 10/3/04.  Note the short abdomen: this is the only female on this page. Finally, a Least Skipper with a genuinely "weak" flight!  I caught up with it in the usual Durham swamp on 6/18/05.

Palatka Skippers, though officially an endangered species, are apparently locally common in some parts of Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge (Dare County, NC).  Viceroys are relatively common in marshes and less likely to be found elsewhere in my experience.  Dion Skippers normally stay near the coast, but some showed up in my neighborhood marsh after Hurricane Katrina came through in early September of 2005.

A mystery butterfly, somewhat like a Pearl Crescent, somewhat like a checkerspot, but unique as far as I know!  Found in the I'on Swamp of the Francis Marion National Forest in Charleston County, SC on 3/29/06. Female Pearl Crescent, I'on Swamp, Francis Marion National Forest, SC, 3/29/06. Palatka Skipper (Euphyes pilatka). I took this picture in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in Dare County, NC on 9/25/04.  Jeff Pippen identified this relatively large skipper. Dion Skipper (Euphyes dion), Durham neighborhood marsh fronting a swamp, 9/9/05.  Two Dion Skippers showed up in this marsh over a period of four days. Dion Skipper. This relatively large skipper showed up on the edge of a marsh in my Durham neighborhood early on 9/5/05.  It looked more orange than brown in direct light.  The light ray on the hind wing is characteristic.


Palamedes Swallowtail (Papilio palamedes), Tyrrell County, NC. This swallowtail appeared near a swamp off the Albemarle Sound. Viceroy (Limenitis archippus), Durham, 7/16/05.  Found at edge of swamp opening and closing its wings.


Spotted Ladybug Beetle (Coleomegilla maculata) mating pair, Durham (neighborhood marsh), 6/18/05.  This is the most abundant species by far in this marsh. Spotted Ladybug Beetle (Coleomegilla maculata) larva, Durham, 6/23/05, seen on a cattail leaf at the same swamp 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 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 near my neighborhood swamp.  This was about a third of an inch long.


Golden Tortoise Beetle (Charidotella bicolor), Durham, NC,  9/10/06, found on the edge of a little swamp near a power line cut. Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle (Labidomera clivicollis), Eno River State Park, Orange County, NC, 10/9/06.  Seen on the banks of Bobbitt's Hole.


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

True Bugs

Toad Bug, found at the edge of the marsh fronting a swamp in my Durham neighborhood on 5/27/05.  How is this for camouflage?   Ironically, this small bug was found in the general vicinity of numerous small Fowler's Toads. Toad Bug, also found at the marsh's edge. Shore Bug (Saldula pallipes [Van Duzee, 1914], cf. Insects of Cedar Creek Saldula page), Durham, 4/9/06.  Seen in a large marsh bordering my neighborhood swamp.  This bug was about ⅛ inch long.  These are scavengers.

Froghopper (Spittlebug)

Two-lined Froghopper (Prosapia bicincta), Durham, 9/23/05.  Found in my local marsh on a cattail leaf.


Maybe mosquito larvae, Durham, 7/27/06.  Note how bubbles come from the tail ends of the larvae. Adult mosquito emerging from pupa.  Durham, NC, 9/8/06.  The little dark things may be mosquito pupae. Adult mosquito with foot on exuviae, Durham, NC, 9/8/06


I think this is a fly larva, possibly Stratiomys genus. Durham, NC, 9/8/06.  Found in a deep puddle at the edge of a marsh on the edge of a power line cut.  The slender end of the larva is often kept at the water's surface while the rest of the body remains submerged. Southern Bee Killer (Mallophora orcina), on a cattail stalk at Carolina Beach State Park, New Hanover County, NC, 10/12/06.  At first it looked like a big bumblebee: what a surprise to see those (robber) fly eyes! Marsh Fly (Limnia loewi?), Little Scaly Mountain, Macon County, NC, 8/9/05. Mating Stilt-legged Flies (Micropezidae family), Durham, 6/13/06.  Many mating animals are easy to photograph, but these were really on the move! 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.


Male Needham's Skimmer (Libellula needhami), Fort Fisher Basin Trail, New Hanover County, NC,  7/16/04.  About five of these red dragonflies showed up together at the beginning of the Basin Trail, but I've never seen any of this species before or since.  Randy Emmitt and Josh Rose provided this ID.  This dragonfly showed up at the edge of the marsh at the head of the This female Needham's Skinner was flying all around the Ft. Fisher Basin Trail, New Hanover County, on 10/18/05, but never landed.  This was in a large marshy area. Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella), Durham, 8/21/05.  Seen at my Durham neighborhood swamp. Male Spangled Skimmer (Libellula cyanea), on a cattail in my Durham neighborhood swamp, 6/13/06


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. Male Autumn Meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum), Dare County, NC, 10/6/05. Two views of a dragonfly exuvia shed at Milltail Road, Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, Dare County, NC, 5/7/06.  A dragonfly nymph once looked something like this.


This adult male Citrine Forktail is an especially anomalous damselfly, seen in my Durham neighborhood 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.  These males are fairly common in my Durham neighborhood swamp.

 © 2006 Dorothy E. Pugh