I took a long day hike this morning in search of the Catskills Aqueduct which flows underground through the Mohonk Preserve. Along the way, I spotted a lot of wildlife including a swimming beaver, white-tailed deer, wild turkeys and a unusual congregation of red-spotted newts gathered together on a large mushroom. During this time of year, it’s normal to see a lot of red-spotted newts in the southeastern woods of New York state, but I’d never seen so many together.
Red-spotted newts live in wet forests and can have a lifespan of 12 years in the wild. As juveniles, they have a striking orange color (shown above) and they are known as red efts. The word “newt” is in fact derived historically from the word eft, which transformed from eft, to euft, to ewt, and to newt.
Eastern newts have three life stages: aquatic tadpole, terrestrial red eft and aquatic adult. As red efts, they have been shown to travel between ponds in order to increase the species genetic diversity. When they turn into adults, their skin changes to a olive color but they retain their reddish spots. Their diet consists of worms, insects and frog eggs.
We saw a slew of efts when we did two section hikes on the Long Trail on either side of Big Branch in June of last year. Fortunately, we had Michele Grzenda, a naturalist, along with us who identified them and told us that they do not make particularly good eating.
We don't see to many around here. Even if you are really looking for them.
They come out when it rains or sprinkles – a late afternoon short rain in a forest near a stream and you will surely see an array of efts – yesterday I saw 13 on the trail – all of them were apart too –
Do the red efts sleep?