Monthly Mystery #8: Eggs Under Water Lilies

At this time of year, there is a seemingly endless variety of mysterious eggs to be found all over the landscape.  In browsing through my folders of unidentified invertebrate signs just now, I came across photos of two different types of eggs I found on the undersides of yellow water lily (Nuphar variegata) leaves in western Massachusetts on June 21, 2008.  I still have no idea what they are.  Any ideas?

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These oval, yellow eggs were embedded in a clear, gelatinous matrix, in a mass 7 mm across.

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These brown, slightly more squat ones were more densely packed and, I think, without a gelatinous matrix.  The mass was 19 mm long.

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Added 7/4/2013: Noah reminds me (in a comment below) that these and other photos of unidentified aquatic eggs we found while working on Tracks & Sign of Insects are collected here.

About Charley Eiseman

I am a freelance naturalist, endlessly fascinated by the interconnections of all the living and nonliving things around me. I am the lead author of Tracks & Sign of Insects and Other Invertebrates (Stackpole Books, 2010), and continue to collect photographs and information on this subject. These days I am especially drawn to galls, leaf mines, and other plant-insect interactions.
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7 Responses to Monthly Mystery #8: Eggs Under Water Lilies

  1. Susan Sawyer says:

    Charley, I think the eggs in gelatin could be mites. I have a photo of something quite similar, but with hatched tiny mites moving around inside it, on the underside of a Nymphaea leaf from last summer. The second one I don’t recognize. I’ve spent some years looking at what’s on Nymphaea and Nuphar leaves, but only in my lake in northern Vermont.

    • Wow, that possibility had not occurred to me. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a reference to eggs of water mites. Based on the limitations of the lens I had at the time, I’d estimate that mass was 7 mm across, which I suppose wouldn’t be out of the question for one of those big Hydrachna species. I’d love to see your photo.

  2. naturenoah says:

    Some more pictures of such eggs are on our old aquatic mystery page from 2008ish, some of these we’ve solved, but not most of the eggs…any new thoughts? http://www.sharoncharney.com/noah/aquatic/eggs.htm

  3. macromite says:

    Hi Charley,

    I checked with a water mite expert and the upper image doesn’t look right, but the lower image of brownish eggs could be water mites. She’d need a higher resolution image to be sure.

    Cheers,

    Dave

  4. Mary Holland says:

    Very cool. It’s never even occurred to me to look on the bottom of lily pads!

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