Field and Swamp: Animals and Their Habitats

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Cute Animal Babies

OK, they're not all what we would normally think of as cute and cuddly, and some are really actually more analogous to children and adolescents.  After all, lots of these babies are pretty self-sufficient and don't need to rely on cuteness to survive, although nature has given them some assistance in forms that most human children would enthusiastically reject.   But we encourage you to stretch your concept of cuteness to embrace the strange and various, and to remember that we humans have been finding certain small predators adorable for a very long time!  

Ambush Bug, about 2 mm long, Durham, NC, 6/30/08.  Very tiny, but already an accomplished predator! Early-instarLeaffooted Bug nymph, Durham, 6/6/05. Some babies take a while to get their act together, looking for eats in all the wrong places (such as this car).  This one was a herbivore. Wheel Bug nymph, Durham, 6/2/06. This bug, not so well-fed, has its beak inserted in a flower.  Predatory insects supplement their diets with nectar as a rule, perhaps for the same reasons we drink soda. Mirid bug nymph (Lopidea genus), Penny's Bend, Durham County, NC, 5/5/06.  This herbivorous bug was about ¼ inch long without the antennae. Thanks to Eric Eaton for ID. Stink bug nymphs, Penny's Bend Nature Preserve, Durham County, NC, 6/25/11 Leaffooted bug nymphs, Eno River State Park, Orange County, NC, 6/15/06


Leaffooted Bug nymph, 7/14/06.  Much smaller than adults: only about a half inch long.  I found this one in the street and moved it to a plant on my lawn. It looks like an armor-plated terror, but it's just an herbivorous 1-mm-long Acanaloniid Planthopper nymph.  When it gets older, the white stuff covers it like a thin cotton glove.  Golden Tortoise Beetle larva, Durham, NC, 7/6/07.  How could you resist the appeal of those pudgy yellow legs and fancy little spines?  Granted, it's hard to see that in the heap of protective fecal matter on top (barely visible). Very well-fed Wheel Bug nymph, Durham, NC, 5/10/08.   Alas, a drought starting soon afterward took the fat babies away.  


Spined Assassin Bug(Sinea diadema) nymph, Eno River State Park, Old Cole Mill Road access, 8/17/08.  Very tiny, and it's a good thing, too! Flea beetle larva (Trirhabda bacharidis), North Charleston, SC, 3/28/06.  It's an herbivore and named for the adult's tendency to jump several inches under stress despite being only 3 or 4 mm long. Casebearer beetle larva, Jordan Lake Gameland, Chatham County, NC,  6/19/07.  You can see the little legs on the bottom of this imposing tower of protective fecal matter. Flatid Planthopper nymph, Durham, NC, 7/6/07.  It's covered with this cottony substance, but you can see a couple of little eyes near the top. Green Lacewing larva (Durham, NC, 8/11/08), carrying a large white clump of white matter meant to hide it from potential predators. The larva is facing the camera, with its brown pincers facing forward; note the four stripes on its head. When we see a white fluffy mass moving around a leaf, this is what's underneath.


Puss Caterpillar, the cute-looking but dangerous larva of the Black-waved Flannel Moth (Megalopyge crispata) .  It was not quite an inch long.  Under the cute-looking hairs are poisonous spines: resist the urge to pet it!  (And if you've already done it, see WebMD's relevant page for further information and consider consulting a physician). White Flannel Moth (Norape ovina), caterpillar, Umstead State Park, Wake County, NC, 9/5/04.  Like the Puss Moth caterpillar, this caterpillar is poisonous. White-Marked Tussock Moth (Orgiya leucostigma) caterpillar, Durham, NC,  9/17/06.  This caterpillar is cute and harmless.


Mantid nymph, Eno River SP, Old Cole Mill Road access, Durham County, NC, 5/29/05.  This insect was about an inch long, had no wings.  I can't tell whether this is a Chinese Mantis or a Praying Mantis (Mantis religiosa) at this stage; other possibilities are unlikely. Mantid nymph, Pine Knoll Shores, Carteret County, NC, 7/23/08.  This nymph was about 2 inches long.  Southern Dog Day Cicada nymph, Durham, NC, 8/15/07.  You can see the clay caked on this nymph from when it crawled out of the ground. Oak Treehopper nymph, Duke Forest, Korstian Division, 5/3/06.


Leafhopper nymph, Penny's Bend Nature Preserve, Durham County, NC, 5/24/08 Bark louse nymph, Durham, NC, 5/1/08 Small Honey Ants.  You can see some brown pupae; the one on the right has adult features showing through.  You can also see developing legs on the white larvae.  Unlike other ants in the Formicinae subfamily, these pupae don't spin cocoons. Flower fly (Syrphidae family) larva, Duke Gardens, Durham, NC, 7/3/07.  Note the two little breathing tubes at the front and back.  ID thanks to John R. Maxwell. Leaf beetle (Chrysomelidae family) larva, eating what I suspect is an oak leaf.  You can tell it's not a caterpillar because it has only six legs.


White-tailed Deer doe and fawn, Zebulon, NC, 8/08.  Photo by Cindy Privette.


Fledgling Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos), Durham, 5/23/05.  Fierce-looking, but undisputedly cute! Fledgling Carolina Wren, Durham, 5/20/06.  Fledgling male Eastern Bluebird, Durham, NC, 9/19/05 Fledgling female Eastern Bluebird, Durham, 7/2/05. Fledgling Blue Jay, Durham, NC, 6/15/09.  It flew away after looking confused for a while.


Half-grown Boat-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus major), Kure Beach Pier, New Hanover County, NC, 11/19/04.  Perhaps the most popular image on my website, this odd-looking bird has an appeal that needs no explanation (except to me...) Young Purple Martin, Durham, 7/5/05.  As adults, they're a magnificent purple-hued black, but I think they're much more charming going through their gargoyle stage. Young Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris), NC Arboretum, Asheville, NC, 7/8/05.  Young Red-shouldered Hawk, Durham, 7/6/07. 


Mallard duckling, Duke Gardens, Durham, 7/19/05 Canada Goose goslings, Wannamaker County Park, Charleston County, SC, 3/28/06.


Tadpole, NC Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 5/24/06.  This was a relatively large tadpole (over 2 inches long).  Many adult, though recent metamorphs, frogs and toads are temporarily much smaller than this. Tadpole with hind legs, North Carolina Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 5/24/07 Tadpole, Durham, 4/15/05.  This large tadpole (about 5 inches long) was surprised by shallow water in a creek.  It did quite a bit of splashing around, eventually making its way to deeper water.  Maybe it was an American Bullfrog; ID based on the USDA Forest Service's American Bullfrog page.


Tadpoles, Durham, 4/10/06.  These much smaller tadpoles had visible eyes and spines, i.e., are visibly vertebrates.  May be very young American Bullfrogs.


Young American Alligators, Cypress Gardens, South Carolina, 10/12/07

Copyright © 2008-2019 by Dorothy E. Pugh