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In 2016 I’m doing a 365 Nature project. Learn more about the project and see all the 365 Nature posts.

Yesterday afternoon I noticed a damselfly larvae in my wetland in a bottle and watched it for awhile. It was resting on the bottom, walking over the gravel very slowly. I put up my hand loupe and saw it’s jaws moving back and forth. Perhaps it had just had a meal, or was preparing for the next one. As I watched, it put its legs very slowly on the side of the glass jar and tried to climb up. If promptly fell over and had to clamber back over to the proper side. As I looked around the container I noticed something new up high, a small case with a larva inside. It almost looked like a cocoon, except it appeared to be open on one side. Perhaps it was still working on it. Inside, was a tiny larva, the front half striped like a zebra, the back half looked all white. What it was or what it was doing, I have no idea. Unfortunately it was late in the day and getting dark and hard to see, so I left it planning to find it again in the morning when it was brighter.

This morning I looked again, and no matter how much I looked, I couldn’t find the larva again. The case and larva had vanished overnight. I examined the other container with my hand loupe and found it was still full of green hydra, mostly in the top couple of inches. This makes sense as they photosynthesize and the jar is becoming quite dark on the inside from all the vegetation growing. There is not always much to see at first glance, but every time I sit a moment and just watch, more and more is apparent. A scud hiding in the leaves, a damselfly larva motionless on a stem, daphnia hovering in the water, a cyclops darting by, a snail moving slowly up the glass. When I look for a long time, I often see tiny things zigzagging in the water. They’re  much too small to see what they are without a microscope and I’m not sure what they are.

Photos are getting increasingly difficult because the inside of the glass is starting to get a buildup of who-knows-what. I may have to get a brush and scrub the sides down a little bit. The snails eat the algae, but whatever is building up is brown and I’m unsure what it is.

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Kelly Brenner

Kelly Brenner

Kelly Brenner is a naturalist, writer and photographer based in Seattle. She is the author of NATURE OBSCURA: A City’s Hidden Natural World from Mountaineers Books. She writes freelance articles about natural history and has bylines in Crosscut, Popular Science, National Wildlife Magazine and others. On the side she writes fiction. Kelly holds a bachelors degree in landscape architecture from the University of Oregon and a certificate in non-fiction writing from the University of Washington.

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