Friday, December 5, 2014

Nature Study Outing :: Metamorphosis at the Pond

Well, it has been pouring for a week here in "sunny California," so we've been staying dry indoors.  But I'm finally getting a chance to share an outing we went on a couple weeks ago...

We spent another tree-climbing, water-skimming, kingfisher-watching, leaf-collecting morning at the pond.  

The kids loved mucking about in the puddles and looking for treasures.

And Gianna spotted a new wild animal.

Oh wait, I think we've seen that one before. :)

But really, this latest nature study outing ended up having an unexpected but intriguing focus: mosquitos!

 The kids and their friends ended up catching quite a few tiny creatures that we quickly identified as mosquito larvae.  Once we found out what they were, the "wrigglers," as they are often called, came home with us in a jar to observe over the next few days.

When we got home, we counted five larvae and two pupae, or "tumblers."  We also apparently had some eggs in there as well, because soon another larva--tiny this time--appeared.  The larvae are very distinct looking.  Their resting position is upside down, where their breathing tube hovers along the water's surface and their long body hangs below.  The pupae also rest along the surface, with a large "head" and curled body below.  Eventually, the skin splits open and the winged mosquito emerges.  He rests on the discarded skin for a while to dry his wings, and then he's off!  

We have been able to watch several go through the full metamorphosis.  Unfortunately, we weren't able to catch any of them in the act of changing forms.  We were able to watch the butterflies in their final molt; it would have been interesting to see the same for the mosquitoes.

Either way, our tiny discovery (literally) yielded big excitement and interest around our home!


  1. Wow, this sounds very fun! Our mosquitoes are gone for the year, but they are plentiful in the summer. Can't wait to do our own mosquito observations someday.

    1. What's funny is that we have very few mosquitoes here, so it never occurred to me to do a study. But once we figured out what they were, we came home and found a very helpful chapter on the life cycle of the mosquito in the Handbook of Nature Study that gave us all we needed to know. It really was a fun topic to explore. Hope you guys have fun with it too--in the summer. ;)

  2. After seeing your photos, I find myself really missing the pond we used to visit regularly before we moved! Mosquito larvae are abundant here but in the lake instead.

    I love the enthusiasm your kids have!

  3. Thanks, Erin! I love that child-like sense of wonder. :)