365 Nature – Day 353

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


Although I haven’t written much about my wetland in a bottle recently, I’ve still been watching the life inside regularly. There are two and the larger one has grown a great amount of vegetation and it’s hard to see the life inside. Today I saw a half dozen damselfly larvae of various sizes. Recently I’d seen scud and snails, but today I could find none of either and I wonder why. The other container, which is taller but smaller in diameter had many snails and the glass is much cleaner. Each container still contains at least one small water beetle and considering I haven’t caught anything for some time, both of the ecosystems appear to be stable. The taller container also has damselfly larvae and both have plenty of hydra, although there seem to be more in the taller container.

Today I found one dead damselfly larva and pulled it out along with a duckweed containing a green hydra to look at under my microscope. I watched the hydra shrink and grow, moving around with it’s green tentacles. I was able to turn up the magnification and get a good look at its mouth. The body appears to be put together with green glitter because up close it rather sparkles and doesn’t have a smooth skin.

I studied the damselfly’s body, particularly the labium and palpi, but it was the animals swimming around and feeding off the damselfly which caught my attention. There was a worm-like animal, very tiny, feeding off the damselfly and it was clear, but for red spots all over the body. It reminded me a little of a leech because it grabbed on with, presumably its mouth, and was stationary, feeding. I saw many of what I believe were diatoms, all shapes and colors, buzzing around the damselfly’s body as well. One looked like a round piece of paper, curled around the edges. There were many small teardrop shaped animals as well. One particular creature was round, but had an extraordinarily long appendage and I wasn’t sure if it was a tail or a type of proboscis. I had my dissecting microscope on the highest power, but it was not enough to see these animals in any detail. I took photos with my phone through the microscope to get something, but I wish someday to have a camera for my microscope. The tiny world is so amazing.

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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, coming Spring 2020 from Mountaineers Books. She writes freelance articles about natural history and has bylines in Crosscut, ParentMap, 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.
Kelly Brenner
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