Elms Environmental Education Center

Student Pages

Critters of the Elms

Redbellied Snake Oct. 2013

This is a redbellied snake found by enthusiastic 3rd grades while hiking to our vernal pools at Elms. They are most common in or around the margins of wetlands.

They can be 4 - 10 in (10 - 25 cm) long and their color is variable but you will know one when you see one because of the diagnostic orange to red underbelly.

They feed nearly exclusively on slugs.

Large Male Bull Frog March 2013

It took some sharp eyes to spot this bull frog that was almost entirely concealed by leaves and pine needles. It snuggled down in the mud because the previous night had near freezing temperatures and frogs don’t have fur to keep them warm. It was discovered by Mrs. Lee and her 1st grade class not far from the vernal pools at Elms. I think the students were surprised by the size of him.

Want to learn more about hibernating frogs?


Can you spot the frog?




Bluebird eggs 2012

Five bluebird eggs found in abandoned nest box at Elms May 31, 2012.

We do not know why these eggs were abandoned. Did something scare her away? We do know however, that bluebirds can have two to four broods a year. So, she probably stared another nest elsewhere. Bluebirds typically nest between March and August here in the Northeastern United States.

Spotted Salamander


By late February the vernal pool at Elms was loaded with spotted salamander eggs. Therefore, we know that the adults come to the area but we never see them. This is because they often travel at night and can easily hide under leaf litter in or around the pool.



Rhinoceros Beetles 2012

Fifty (more or less) rhinoceros beetles (Xyloryctes jamaicensis) found at Elms! The males with the big horns are particularly amazing looking. The adults can fly. Perhaps you have seen one come to your porch light.

Students holding the Rhino beetles!

Seventh grade students working in the Elms native plant nursery were thrilled to found lots and lots of these impressive beetles in the pots with our ash trees.  The adult beetles feed on ash tree foliage and the larvae feed on the roots of ash as well as decaying organic matter. We are unsure if our ash trees will survive such a large infestation. Oct. 2012.

Smooth Earth Snake Oct. 2012

Smooth earth snakes (Virginia valeriae) grow to be 7 to 10 inches (18-25.4 cm). They are most often found hiding beneath logs, leaf litter, or other debris and eat earthworms and soft-bodied insects. This species is viviparous, giving live birth to as many as 14 little snakes in the late summer.

This snake was discovered in one of the native plant demonstration gardens at Elms. Some visiting 7th graders enjoyed the find. Oct. 15th 2012.

Imperial Moth Caterpillar 2012

The imperial moth Eacles imperialis is quite impressive as both a caterpillar and a moth.

Unlike anything they had seen before.

Caterpillars will eat sweetgum, birch, elm, sassafras, pine, sycamore and many other trees.

Two 7th grade students were surprised to find this critter while trying to identify a sweetgum tree at Elms September 2012.

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