I’ve been watching the area around the mass of Streamside Salamander Eggs I photographed last week, figuring that the area would fill with larvae once the eggs hatched. When I went by yesterday, the creek was crowded with newly hatched salamanders. This was a welcome sight, because I had been concerned that the eggs might have suffered some damage from being hauled out for a photo shoot.
As the salamander larvae age, their coloring changes to become less conspicuous against the creek bottom. Or it might be that all of the conspicuous larvae are eaten and those with better camouflage live longer.
Nothing left beneath the rock except the now empty eggs. I’ll check back periodically to see how long this evidence of a successful hatch remains recognizable.
The head is the dominant feature of a young larva. It contains the eyes and the mouth; two things that are brought to use immediately upon hatching. Salamanders are predators and the larvae will eat anything small enough to get in the mouth and down the throat. The more it eats, the faster it grows and the greater its chances of metamorphosing into an air breather and leaving the creek before the water disappears.
There are already some older larvae in the creek that are showing the development of their front legs. I first noticed newly hatched larvae a couple of weeks ago. This one probably hatched during that time period. Batches of young larvae can be seen the entire length of the creek. Based on those criteria, this has been a successful breeding season. The real test though, will be how many larvae successfully leave the water and establish themselves on land.