Vernal Pools: Microcosm of Life

Photo by Will Michael.
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In Connecticut, vernal pools may easily go unnoticed when in the woods. Vernal pools are small and often disappear during the dry summer months, but if one takes the time to look, vernal pools provide a constant source of phenomenal wildlife.


A key factor of a vernal pool is that it lacks fish. The absence of fish allows amphibian and insect life to thrive without their primary predator’s presence. Vernal pools often dry up during the summer, making it impossible for fish to survive. Some pools retain water all year, but these unorthodox pools still have the vital characteristic of no fish.




As the insects swim about one can observe the unique techniques each has of breathing underwater.




When a vernal pool is discovered, the first glance might not reveal much. But after one’s eyes become adjusted, a menagerie of wildlife presents itself. Amphibians, including marbled, Jefferson, and yellow-spotted; red-spotted newts, toads, spring peepers, green frogs, and more are all present in different pools.


The amount of insect life is overwhelming: water boatman, dragonflies, damselflies, fish flies, water boatman, predaceous diving beetles, water scorpions, and more all reside in the pools. As the insects swim about one can observe the unique techniques each has of breathing underwater.


The diversity in a vernal pool is vast; the more one looks the more one will discover. It is a microcosm, a wonderful example of the world as a whole.





WILL MICHAEL is the director of CT Naturalist TV. Michael is creating an online database of the animals found in and around Danbury, Connecticut, one of the most ecologically diverse habitats in the country. All too often residents take our local environment for granted–CT Naturalist TV hopes to change that!


New webisodes will be uploaded here each month to keep you informed of what animals are active in Danbury’s parks and open space.


To contact Will and to view the wildlife database, visit

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