Anoles, Quails, and Maybe Cattails

Vernal Pools

Vernal pools are an essential 'microbiome' to many plants and animals. Specific conditions must be met for a body of water to be consedered a vernal pool. Unfortuanately, vernal pools have been declining due to human activity.

Characteristics of a Vernal Pool Biome

How do you know if a body of water is a vernal pool? There are many unique characteristics that a vernal pool has:

List of Common Visitors To Midwestern Vernal Pools


  • Raccoons
  • Raccoons will occasionaly visit vernal pools, probaly looking for something to eat.

  • White-tailed Deer
  • White-tailed deer will often enjoy eating the undergrowth around vernal pools. Look for buck rubbings on trees near vernal pools, and hoof prints in soft mud.

  • Squirrels
  • Squirrels love to visit vernal pools with nut-bearing trees growing nearby.

  • Chipmunks
  • Same as squirrels, chipmunks will usually forage around the edge of a vernal pool.


  • Woodpeckers
  • If trees grow around a vernal pool, woodpeckers will often visit for food and may even build a nest near a vernal pool.

  • Various Songbirds
  • Depending on the species, songbirds eat a variety of invertabrates, berries, nuts, seeds, etc, so the species of songbirds visiting a vernal pool will depend on location and what plants and inverts live there.

  • Sandhill Cranes
  • Sandhill Cranes will sometimes stop by a vernal pool for food.


    Reptiles also visit vernal pools.

  • Blanding's Turtle
  • Amphibians

    You will know a vernal pool is healthy if amphibians are living and reproducing there. This is because the skin of amphibians is very penetrable- amphibians breathe and absorb moisture in their skin. If there are pollutants or other unwanted factors in the water in vernal pools, like oil spills, amphibians won't want to live there.

  • Blue-Spotted Salamander
  • An indicator species, the blue spotted salamander, like all amphibians, show that the water quality of a vernal pool is just right.

  • Spotted Salamander
  • Same as blue spotted salamander, this iconic amphibian is a pretty blackish color with bright yellow spots.

  • Red Spotted Newt
  • These little guys are a reddish-brown color with bright, almost neon colored, red/orange spots.

  • Peeper Frog
  • You will often hear these cute frogs before you see them. Peeper frogs come in a variety of browns, and are an inch long. Additionaly, peeper frogs have an 'x' marking on their back.

  • Wood Frog
  • I have also heard these frogs being called 'leopard frogs'. Woodfrogs are a bit larger than peeper frogs, vary in shades of brown, and have a dark brown/ blackish face mask.


    So many invertabrates visit vernal pools, that it would take a while to list them all. With that in mind, only a few will be listed here.

  • Fairy Shrimp
  • Fairy shrimp are a sign that a body of water is definetely a vernal pool. This is because

  • Fingernail Clams
  • Fingernail clams are strange creatures, because they are found in a very unusual place. They love to live in vernal pools, but the odd thing is when the vernal pool drains temperaraly. When this happens, they will burrow down underneath the substrate of the vernal pool, where there is still moisture.

  • Mosquitoes
  • Although they are irratating, mosquitoes do have an important role to play, both as pollinators and as food for other creatures. Mosquitos love to lay their eggs in vernal pools. These eggs hatch into mosquito larvae, also known as wrigglers.

  • Caddis Flies & Caddis Fly Larvae
  • adult caddisfly

    Caddis flies are fascinating little creatures. The adult female lays her eggs in a body of water. When the larvae hatch, they are vulnerable to many hungry predetors. To camoflauge themselves better, they make little tube-shaped homes out of pebbles, bits of broken shell, leafs, algae, and sand. They mix these materials with their own silk, and then crawl into these little homes, which behave almost like a snail's shell. With their little homes, caddis worms are now much safer. Something interesting is that different species of caddis fly larvae make homes from different materials.

  • Isopods
  • isopod

    A member of the crustacean family, these small creatures are known by many names: roly-polies, pill bugs, woodlice, sowbugs, isopods, etc. Although they are small, isopods play a very important role in the health of ecosystems by eating decaying matter. Overturning pieces of rotting wood, bricks, or large stones will usually result in an abundance of these small invertabrates. For more, read my page on isopods here.

  • Dragonflies
  • Dragonflies and dragonfly larvae can sometimes be found at vernal pools. They prey on many other invertabrates, such as mosquitoes.

  • Earthworms
  • Gardeners are familiar with these little beneficial worms. Earthworms love vernal pools, there is plenty to eat and there's lots of moisture.

  • Beetles
  • You can find a variety of beetles near a vernal pool. Some species of beetle larvae live in vernal pools, and some beetle like insects, such as the belostoma, hunt for other aquatic larvae in vernal pools.


    It would be nearly impossible to list all of the microorganisms that occur in vernal pools, but here is a list of some of the common ones. For more micoorganisms, here is a list of more microbiota.

  • Nematodes
  • Nematodes are small, clear worms. Although they look like it, many nematodes aren't parasites. Instead, many nematodes are decomposers.

  • Tardigrades
  • List of Common Plants of Midwestern Vernal Pools


  • Non-vascular and other
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