The Red-Spotted Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) is a salamander which is very common in Delaware County. It hatches from eggs laid in the water in the spring and lives its first life stage as a tadpole-like aquatic form breathing through gills.
In late summer, this tadpole-like stage develops into an eft, a terrestrial form with lungs. Efts, because of their bright red-orange color, are conspicuous and commonly seen walking about on damp days on the forest floor. Their bright color advertises to potential predators that they taste really foul. They may look cute, but they are voracious predators, devouring worms and all kinds of insects and insect eggs, including hard-bodied beetles and stinging ants. They overwinter under rocks and will spend several years (up to seven!) in this life stage.
In the spring, some of the efts return to the water to become adults and to lay eggs. They don’t develop gills, but continue to breathe air with lungs. They are often seen floating about in the warm shallow edges of a pond. Pictured here is a newt in transition between the forest red eft stage and the aquatic adult stage.