It Was a Warm and Rainy Night . . .

By Barbara Walvoord

Originally published in the Lathrop Lamp Post for April 21-27, 2018

Snoopy thinks a “dark and stormy night” is the best setting for drama.  But a warm, rainy spring night is the setting for an amazing drama in Lathrop’s vernal pools.

On one such spring night, hordes of 7-inch spotted salamanders emerge from underground hibernation in the forest. They begin a dangerous, life-or-death march to a vernal pool to mate and lay their eggs.  Vernal pools dry up periodically, so they have no fish, which would otherwise eat all the salamander eggs. So it’s vernal pool or bust.

Predators’ talons, claws, and jaws snatch many of the marchers, but the rest keep going. Continue reading It Was a Warm and Rainy Night . . .


New Discoveries at Lathrop

by Barbara Walvoord

Originally published in the Lathrop Lamp Post of April 14-10

We humans at Lathrop might be a bit like Christopher Columbus, claiming to “discover” something, when lots of creatures knew it was there all along.  But, led by the distinctive “quacking” of mating wood frogs, we’ve “discovered” two vernal pools on the east campus (in addition to the ones already identified on trail maps for east campus and Fitzgerald Lake:

Wood frogs can live ONLY in vernal pools, which dry up periodically and thus have no fish to eat the wood frog eggs. (Sounds, photos, and information:

Columbus reported his discovery to his queen.  We will register our vernal pools with the state, which protects these increasingly rare habitats. Continue reading New Discoveries at Lathrop

Who’s Climbing our Trees?

by Barbara Walvoord

Originally published in the Lathrop Lamp Post of April 7-13, 2018

Archeologists say that our human progenitors started out swinging through trees, but later came down to live on land.  So our Lathrop trees don’t contain many humans (except the occasional grandchild).  But our trees do contain lots of other creatures.

One of the animals in our trees is the porcupine, photographed here on the north campus by resident Joan Cenedella.  For a porcupine, trees are home (they nest in tree cavities), dinner (they eat bark, buds, shoots, and leaves), and safety. Continue reading Who’s Climbing our Trees?