Give a warm welcome to the newest members of our family who were laid about two weeks ago. They are not warm and fuzzy. They are not pretty or cute. They are not adorable...YET. Just wait. When the baby's emerge from the pond I guarantee that you will utter a big "Aaawww...."
No, they are not worms.
What species are you thinking???
I am sure this is no help and some of you are all, "Ewe and ick!!!!" Suck it up and be a biologist for just a second ladies (and gents).
Now here's a close up of the eggs. These are amphibians. Warty amphibians...
These are western toad (Bufo boreas) eggs.
I pulled these eggs from the seasonal drainage that runs through our property. The creek drys out and will not be inundated long enough to support the full development of tadpoles to adults. From here they enter the pond which I will fill with water throughout their development.
After they emerge from their slime tube they look like this in their larval stage. Their little tails are visible and they hug the bottom of the pond sucking algae and microscopic stuff.
Now for the "evil guy" music....
I found these creatures living in my pond after the first storm. They are bull frogs... NON-NATIVE species which EAT native tadpoles and frogs. They grow to preposterous sizes consuming all in their path, leaving a wake of destruction.
They look all cute with their beady eyes and pretty green patterns BUT they are major predators who have been responsible for the decimation of native species, pushing some, like the red-legged frog, to the brink of extinction.
(Just to clarify...bull frogs are native to the eastern US so don't go hating on your native frogs east of the Rockies. They just disturb the western ecosystems.)
Thus they must be removed and taken care of. In a Mafia kind of way. Hmmm, I guess I could always have some frog legs for dinner. I had one in my net last night and he JUMPED out!! How dare he!!! I will get these before they have a chance to reproduce.
And when the western toad babies can swim freely without the threat of being eaten by a bull frog, the rainbows will arc across the sky and tones of Vivaldi will float over our property.
Well maybe not, but at least I know I've done something to perpetuate the regeneration of native toad species in our area. So many wetlands have been lost to development and it is harder for these amphibians to reproduce and survive in our man-influenced environment.
Every little bit helps.