Friday, August 16, 2013

Tadpole Hunger Games

Before we left on vacation, we released the tree frog tadpoles we'd been raising into the sort of finished mini-pond we'd been working on out by our nature garden. (Finding a tadpole sitter seemed a tad ridiculous...even to me - though to be honest, the thought did cross my mind.) We got them all set up, tossed in some algae covered sticks & rocks, a bunch of boiled lettuce and left them in the hands of nature.

Upon our arrival home, all seemed well.  Curiously, there were not as many tadpoles in there as I seemed to remember releasing - but quite a few of them were almost froglets when we left so my assumption was that they simply hopped away. 

A day later, Libby (my nature loving, frog whispering daughter) came inside to tell me excitedly that we had a dragonfly nymph in our tadpole pond!

So cool! I went outside with her to check it out and there wasn't just one.  No.  There were 8 or 9 dragonfly nymphs of varying sizes creeping around on the bottom and sides of the pond. How so something so weird and incredibly creepy looking can transform into a beautiful dragonfly is simply amazing!

So...want to know what dragonfly nymphs eat??  That's right. 


We looked closer. Really looked.

The tadpoles in the pond appeared all fat and healthy but...the majority had bedraggled looking little tails (chewed on, shortened and some nearly missing) and they seemed to be keeping awfully still - not swimming around, mostly staying and floating near the surface or hiding under rocks.  And to top things off, near one of the edges there were the dismembered remains of one of our larger tree frog tadpoles.  

All 30 or so remaining tadpoles (out of over 50 that we had placed in there before our vacation) were  transferred out of the pond and back into their tadpole "nursery".  Minnows were fetched from the creek for the dragonfly nymphs to stalk, capture and nom on instead...which they promptly did. It was fascinating and slightly disturbing to watch. I shudder a bit to think of what our little tree frogs-to-be had to go through in the week we were gone, forced to deal with the situation we literally tossed them into. 

 Soon our remaining tadpoles will be tiny tree frogs and in due time will come face to face with the horrors and threats of the natural world. But not right now. Right now they're safe in their tadpole nursery, with all the boiled lettuce, strawberries, freeze dried blood worms, algae and bacon they can eat.

Right now, they're just not ready for the tadpole version of the Hunger Games...for the dangers that lurk below.

But when that time finally comes again...
well, may the odds be ever in their favor.

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