Hunting Vernal Pools

It’s spring again and time to go out and hunt for some vernal pools.  For those that don’t have any idea what that is I’ll provide a brief description.  Vernal pools are small shallow ponds that fill up in the spring time, hence the name “vernal”.  These shallow pools fill up with melting snow and spring rains and generally stay filled up throughout most of the spring.  The point of finding them is to see the rich diversity of life that takes advantage of these seasonal water sources.  Many of Pennsylvania’s frogs, toads, salamanders and newts take full advantage of the water as a place to lay their eggs.  For certain species this is the best time of the year to find them.  On my most recent trip I was fortunate to find quite a few red spotted newts swimming in a small vernal pool.  This is an adult newt in its aquatic phase.  you can clearly see the red spots that give it its name.  I may post the find of further expeditions.  Hunting for vernal pools is a simple but fun way to discover some of Pennsylvania’s wildlife that is rarely seen.  I think it would be an interesting field trip to take students to look for vernal pools and help them to identify what they find.

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