Field and Swamp: Animals and Their Habitats

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My Local Swamp/Marsh (in Durham, NC)

There is a place in my neighborhood that started out as a swamp, turned into a marsh, and is now going back to being a swamp.  This story covers almost 16 years.

A low-lying area in my neighborhood that once was a duckweed-covered swamp bordered by a marsh during times of abundant rainfall.   The marsh contained cattails, false nutsedge and floating primrose-willows (Ludwigia peploides), which grew closest to the swamp and took it over during a 2007 drought.   Green Herons and Great Blue Herons visited the swamp when it was deepest and covered with duckweed.   The number of floating primrose-willows dwindled and the cattails at the edge of the marsh took over as the trees died and the swamp became a marsh.  Later, as rainfall decreased over the years, trees came back and grew very tall.  A border of Pennsylvania Smartweeds appeared; these and the cattails are now dwarfed by the trees.

Ladybug beetles, grasshoppers, green leafhoppers, Least Skippers (very numerous in September of 2005), Two-lined Froghoppers, Rice Stink Bugs and tiny mirid bugs have visited the marsh.  Toad Bugs and Shore Bugs showed up on the edges and probably farther into the marsh.  Eastern Narrowmouth Toads inside the wetter areas made bleating sounds during wetter periods.


Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes), 5/2/05.  This bird only appeared once, was apparently migrating through. Toad Bug, found near my neighborhood swamp in a marshy area on 5/27/05. How is this for camouflage? This small bug was found in the general vicinity of numerous small Fowler's Toads. This adult male Citrine Forktail is an especially anomalous damselfly, seen in a Durham swamp on 6/18/05.  Ladybug Beetle pupa, Durham, 6/18/05.  I found this sitting on a leaf of a tree near the edge of the swamp.  This was about a third of an inch long. Spotted Ladybug Beetle (Coleomegilla maculata) larva, Durham, 6/23/05, seen on a cattail leaf at the same marsh as the adult Coleomegilla maculata beetles above.  On 6/24/05, during a time of plentiful rain, the swamp was filled with water covered with duckweed and a Green Heron visited for a couple of weeks.  This illustrates some interesting similarities.  A Spotted Cucumber Beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata, subfamily Galerucinae), at right, shared water primrose nectar with a (mainly carnivorous) ladybug beetle (Coleomagilla maculata) on 7/2/05. Margined Leather-wing (Chauliognathus marginatus).  Wing maintenance, Durham swamp, 7/2/05.  Notice the leg over the wing. Sometime later. Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella), Durham, 8/21/05.   


Male Black-tailed Red Sheetweaver (Florinda coccinea), 9/3/05.  Dion Skipper.  This relatively large skipper showed up on the edge of the edge of the marsh early on 9/5/05.  It looked more orange than brown in direct light.  The light ray on the hind wing is characteristic. Least Skippers mating, with a would-be interloper, 9/14/05.  The marsh was full of Least Skippers at this time. 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 marsh edge. Marsh Fly, Durham, 9/14/05.  Found in same swamp.  Two-lined Froghopper (Prosapia bicincta), Durham, 9/23/05.  Found in my local marsh on a cattail leaf. Blue form female Citrine Forktail, Durham, 9/26/05.  Has possibly experienced some wear and tear on the end of the abdomen; I've seen many looking like that. Green Treefrog, 10/3/05 Eastern Narrow-mouth Toad, 10/15/08It was about 12 mm long, taking leaps much longer than its own length.          


Northern Cricket Frog, Durham, NC, 4/7/06.  Shore Bug (Saldula pallipes [Van Duzee, 1914], cf. Insects of Cedar Creek Saldula page), Durham, 4/9/06.  Seen in a large marsh bordering on a swamp.  This bug was about ⅛ inch long.  These are scavengers. Toad Bug, also seen in the neighborhood swamp periphery, on 4/18/06.  Note the difference in shape and coloring. Male Spangled Skimmer (Libellula cyanea) on a cattail , 6/13/06 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. Mating Stilt-legged Flies (Micropezidae family), Durham, NC, 6/13/06.  Many mating animals are easy to photograph, but these were really on the move! Spotted Ladybug Beetles (Coleomegilla maculata) mating pair, Durham, NC, 6/17/06. Water Scavenger Beetle (Hydrophilus triangularis), Durham, 6/19/06.  This beetle was underwater at the time. Same Water Scavenger Beetle. Mosquito larvae, Durham, 7/27/06.  Note how bubbles come from the tail ends of the larvae. Stink bug, Durham, NC, 8/21/06.  Probably a Spined Soldier Bug,  perhaps somewhat emaciated.  The marsh habitat seems to change the appearance of stink bugs. Brown Stink Bug (Euschistus servus [Say, 1832]), Durham, 10/18/06, found near the swamp in an area with a lot of Oriental River Grass.  This is a notorious soybean pest.  But since soybeans aren't grown anywhere around here, seeing one around here (in my neighborhood, in this case) is a rare treat. Stilt Bug, Durham, NC, 8/30/06, a short distance from the swamp in a wooded section.    


Adult mosquito emerging from pupa.  Durham, NC, 9/8/06.  The dark objects on the right are probably mosquito pupae.  These appeared in a puddle near my neighborhood swamp. Adult mosquito with foot on exuviae, Durham, NC, 9/8/06          


A very large tadpole, Durham, NC, 4/22/07 Green Frog, Durham, NC, 4/22/07 Shining leaf beetle (Neolema sexpunctata), Durham, NC, 7/1/07.  This was a tiny beetle, about 4 mm long. Marsh fly, Durham, NC, 7/13/07 Leafhopper (Macrosteles quadrilineatus, subfamily Deltocephalinae) nymph and adult, Durham, NC, 8/15/07. These were two of hundreds of such leafhoppers that were briefly seen there. The leaf they were on in this photo belonged to a water primrose. Leafhopper (Macrosteles quadrilineatus) in flight, Durham, NC, 8/15/07 Floating Primrose-willow (Ludwigia peploides) 8/17/07          


On 8/18/07, during a long drought that began in spring, the water dried up and  the Floating Primrose-willows (Ludwigia peploides) took over. eventually losing their flowers. After a rain, there was a little vegetation where the water and duckweed used to be on 11/9/07.  Tarnished Plant Bug nymph, Durham, NC, 11/9/07.  Millipede, Polydesmida order.  At first glance, it looks like a centipede, though.  11/09/07          


This group of buttercups, sprang up on the edge of the marsh fronting the swamp after spring rains.  Here they are on 5/1/08. Mealy Plum Aphid, giving birth.  Found in a group on cattails in the marsh, 6/14/08 Other Mealy Plum Aphids Great Crested Flycatcher, 6/23/08 Ambush bug nymph, about 2 mm long, Durham, NC, 6/30/08 Soft-winged flower beetle (Collops genus, Melyridae family), Durham, NC, 8/23/08 Rice Stink Bug, Durham, NC, 8/23/08. It's using its beak to drink from a water droplet on a cattail leaf. Crab spider (Xysticus genus), 10/15/08 Orange form female Citrine Forktail, 10/15/08 Courting Common Buckeyes, 10/16/08 Common Buckeye, 10/16/08 Crab spider, and 3 mm long, 10/22/08    


Two male Eastern Bluebirds flew out of the trees over the swamp to flutter near the ground on a neighboring field on 10/16/08.  Several site visitors suggested they had spotted a source of insect prey. Flower fly (Eristalis dimidiatus), 10/20/08 Virginia Flower Fly (Milesia virginiensis), 10/20/08 On the edge of the marsh, showing fall colors on 10/20/08.  A wonderful pseudo-tropical look. Picture-winged fly (Chaetopsis genus), 10/22/08 Yellow-collared Scape Moth, on asters bordering on the marsh, Durham, NC, 11/1/08.  The (former) swamp in winter, invaded by cattails, 11/20/08: the swamp has apparently reverted to marsh. Killdeers, in a nearby field, 11/20/08.  A small rain had created a puddle.        


After a heavy rain, 3/17/09 Seven-spotted Ladybug Beetle (Coccinella septempunctata) larva, Durham (edge of marsh at neighborhood swamp), 4/11/09. This plump but nimble little rascal climbed rapidly over grass plants and other objects, readily bending in two. Rice Stink Bug nymph, with wing pads, dorsal view, Durham, NC, 7/18/09.  Dew drops on a spider web, 7/25/09  


New growth on 11/8/10.  Trees in the swamp died, but as it dried up, new trees appeared on the edges. Another view of these new trees (11/8/10) at the other side of the marsh.          


Buffalo Treehopper (Ceresa alta), 7/2/12 Female soldier fly (maybe Microchrysa polita), 8/18/12. Tentative ID thanks to Shannon Donavan. Globular springtail (Ptenothrix unicolor), seen on a log showing evidence of termite tunnels in my neighborhood swamp on 10/25/12.  ID thanks to Frans Janssen.          


Killdeer, Durham, NC, 1/12/16 Killdeer pair, Durham, NC, 1/12/16 Song Sparrow on cattails, 2/27/16          


Green Heron, 7/31/17          


1/15/19.  Cattails have almost taken over, although there are a few small trees here and there. The cattail marsh is thriving, but some trees behind it are doing well.  Pennsylvania Smartweed lines the edge.  6/23/19          


On a sunny day, 7/22/20 Trees have gotten tall. 8/24/20 Even here, the cattails are dwarfed by the trees and Pennsylvania Smartweed.  8/24/20 Arrowleaf Tearthumb (Persicaria sagittata), Durham, NC, 10/5/20 Arrowleaf Tearthumb (Persicaria sagittata), Durham, NC, 10/5/20 The Arrowleaf Tearthumb was fading on 11/7/20.  The cattails were spreading their seeds. The cattails, Pennsylvania Smartweed and Arrowleaf Tearthumb have faded, but some trees still have green and yellow leaves, on 11/13/20        


Secluded part of local swamp, with Carolina Mosquitofern most evident, 3/5/21 Carolina Mosquitofern and duckweed in the local swamp, 3/5/21 Carolina Mosquitofern and duckweed in the local swamp, in the sun, 3/5/21 Neighborhood swamp making inroads into marsh, 3/15/21          


 Copyright 2005-2021 Dorothy E. Pugh. All pictures copyrighted.

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