A few weeks ago Kieran and I hiked to a hidden pond on Mt. Diablo — we suspect it may be fed by a spring, as it was brimming over with water even as nearby creeks had dried up. This is one of the few ponds we know not yet taken over by invasive bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana) — this pond is full of native toads and also Hyla regilla and Rana draytonii.

Tadpoles lashed around the clear water, and thousands of tiny Hyla regilla frogs bounced all over the muddy shore.

When we swept the water with nets, we found the usual creatures — water boatmen, backswimmers, dragon- and damselfly nypmphs, and suchlike. But we also caught some predatory water bugs, or “toe biters,” so named for their painful bite (they are relatives of the assassin bug!). We think this species is Belostoma bakeri.

Female toe biters often glue their eggs onto the back of their mates, and the fathers carry the eggs around, protecting them and keeping them oxygenated by movement through the water. This is a good metaphor for parenthood — literally carrying your kids on your back!

IMG_2578

Thousands of tiny treefrogs bounced every which way on the muddy shore of the hidden pond.

IMG_2611

Hyla regilla, or Pseudacris regilla, is the Pacific Treefrog, with a voice made famous in Hollywood movies and TV shows.

IMG_2608

A tadpole, probably Rana draytonii, with back legs already emerging. Just above it is a backswimmer, Notonecta.

IMG_2614

Checking the pond.

IMG_2588

Checking the net.

IMG_2602

A male “toe biter” — we think it’s Belostoma bakeri — carrying eggs on his back.

IMG_2599

The female Belostoma glues the eggs to his back so he can protect them and so they will also get plenty of oxygen as he swims around.

IMG_2604

Although he has a painful bite, I was lucky this time!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: