The Eastern Redback Salamander (Plethodon cinereus) is a small and slender fully terrestrial woodland salamander. This creature is by far the most common salamander in Vermilion County, Illinois. It can be found year around, although they are most active in spring (March to April) and in autumn (October to November). It most commonly can be found in mixed deciduous hardwood forests, under logs, bark, rocks, and leaf material.
This species has direct development within the egg. There is no larval stage. Gills are lost just prior to hatching. Hatchlings and juveniles resemble miniature adults.
They are polymorphic, having two color forms, the ‘red-back’ phase and the ‘lead-back’ phase. The red-back phase has a bright red or orange, straight edged dorsal stripe materializing at the head, running the length of the body, and sometimes extending the entire length of the tail. The lead-back phase is a uniform dark gray or black with a slight blue or red overtone. White flecks are abundant and pepper the entire body.
Two tripods, two flashes, a reflective umbrella, a piece of plexiglas (that I had to drill a hole in), and some Velcro. Done! My thought was to reflect the same light I already create illuminating my object and reflect it back, bleaching my background. The rod from my umbrella holds up the plexiglas. It’s far from perfect, and quite limiting, but it produces what I need and requires no extra equipment.